Boy Harsher – Careful
- Arusa Qureshi
- 1 February 2019
Atmospheric and visceral industrial synth from the Massachusetts duo
Jae Matthews and Augustus Muller's experimentations with sound, emotion and atmosphere as Massachusetts duo Boy Harsher have led them to the creation of a sonic landscape that's evocative yet minimal in both structure and conception. On the one hand, there's the clear feel of a nostalgic 80s fever dream with each slick synth refrain and drone of bass; on the other, an apocalyptic future is laden with an inescapable sense of anxiety.
Careful is a record that charts trauma and loss, all the while illustrating the impulse to escape at every turn. Opener 'Keep Driving' exemplifies this with its nightmarish synth slides and ominous build-up, which leads perfectly to the moody electronics and sultry vocals of 'Face the Fire'. Matthews' distinctive whispers and hazy melodies wash over the layers of staccato rhythms and unearthly synthesizers that flood the album, as on 'Fate' and the woozy techno of 'Come Closer'.
Tracks like 'Crush' and 'Careful' create an atmospheric tension with a mesh of noise that creeps throughout. Likewise, the stabbing pulse of 'Tears' reverberates with an ambience that refuses to let up, encircling the brooding vocals with a consistent sense of movement. Elsewhere, 'Lost' has a more deep and laidback groove compared to the rest of the album, heightened by its melodic synth and vocal riff, while the beat loops and funky new wave feel of 'The Look You Gave (Jerry)' feels more akin to the score of a retro workout video.
Careful is an exercise in minimalist experimentalism, with its techno and drone undertones delivering an eeriness that ricochets between each grinding synth line and vocal incantation. The industrial instrumentation and 80s dark wave could soundtrack the most sinister of dance floors or underground haunts with ease, as the harshness of each track's tone and structure delivers something hauntingly robotic and, at the same time, wholly visceral.
Out now on Nude Club.