Review Summary: The greatness of its parts tend to elevate the whole on this solid indie pop-rock effort
Another college educated indie pop-rock set out of brooklyn, the Harlem Shakes have been making music together since 2006. Their first release, an EP entitled "Burning Birthdays" was released in 2007 to some fair praise from various media outlets, including pitchfork. Fast-forward to May 2009 and the Harlem Shakes first full length album: "Technicolor Health"
Just like the albums title and cover art, "Technicolor Health" is a happy upbeat addition to a steadily increasing happy upbeat genre of indie rock/pop. But where bands like Vampire Weekend add a little edge and irony to some of their songs, the Harlem Shakes add more happiness. Its true, there is hardly any negativity on this album so if you're looking for a break from more morose listening, this would be a pretty good choice.
Lyrically the album is solid although fairly sparse, with most songs centering around new or just blossoming love and nostalgia.
ie. From "Unhurried Hearts"
We met at a pre-war protest
saw your brother getting maced with my zoom
the sun won't rest and we're still obsessed
and the bustle don't block the gloom
but take solace in solipsism
does anyone know a good joke"
the sun won't rest and we'll do our best
not to die unloved and broke
Muscially the album is driven by Brents percussion on both the drums and drum machine while Lexy nonchalantly sings through each track with the nasal vocals youd expect out of Vampire Weekend, or Neutral Milk Hotel or even Saves the Day's Chris Connelly. While these two aspects remain fairly constant through out the album, the rest really does not. The Harlem Shakes go back and forth, nearly track by track, between slower, more relaxing tracks such as the titular song "Technicolor Health" and upbeat pop rock sing alongs like "Sunlight". This tends to create a rather jarring inconsistency that leaves the listener wondering which direction the band is really trying to go.
Despite the inconsistency displayed throughout the album, The Harlem Shakes put on a solid effort which could lead to something great if they take a more focused approach.
Recommended tracks: "Sunlight" & "Radio Orlando"