Much of Harvey Milk’s work is oddly accessible considering its sheer grandiosity and depressive nature. While there’s little as far as foothold in their brand of sludge/riffage/doom/indie/sadness, the raw, impressive guitar lines provide more than enough appeal for the listener to stick around for the entirety of the experience-- the way it’s best devoured. Courtesy And Good Will Towards Men
is different in this respect. It combines the utterly dour and cohesive tenor (seriously, have you hear the transitions?) of A Small Turn Of Human Kindness
with the dexterity and (comparative) ebullience of Life... The Best Game In Town
. Considering that it’s 70 minutes long and that that space is filled with everything from depressive doom and sludge (“Sunshine (No Sun) Into the Sun”), to Slint-esque indie rock (“My Broken Heart Will Never Mend”) to whiskey-soaked, rattling piano ballads (“The Lord’s Prayer”), Courtesy
proves to be much more ambitious than the rest of Harvey’s discography. Altogether, it’s an album that not only catapults to the forefront of the Harvey Milk canon, but to the forefront of all music that has ever attempted to impart dread and sorrow upon listeners.
Despite the fact that Harvey Milk is a band (obviously), the entirety comes off as though it was constructed and performed from the point of view of a single entity. It brings to mind artists like Leonard Cohen, which is fitting because “One Of Us Cannot Be Wrong” crosses the border from the band’s usual Cohen-worship to a Cohen-cover. This is one of the most endearing facets of the record, and its cohesiveness lends itself to the overbearing grimness throughout. Ever-shifting, the band pulls off the sharp contrasts in mood rather sincerely. For instance, “Brown Water” provides a surprisingly buoyant guitar line before dropping an anchor into the depths of sludge, heaviness, and general melancholy. Grim, right? Harvey provides brief respites from this sort of somberness with the (odd, but lovely) inclusion of ballads, and the sections soaked in 70‘s-rock nostalgia. Still, Courtesy
manages to make every album that’s ventured toward seriously-melancholic territory appear as mere echoes of the asphyxiating heaviness achieved here.
Altogether, the duality of hypnotic and jarring makes for an especially potent potion that latches onto your psyche and, like a tic, refuses to let go. Scratch what I said before about the best way to devour a Harvey Milk album- Courtesy And Good Will Towards Men