Review Summary: Social anxiety has never sounded so good
The Harmaleighs’ She Won’t Make Sense
is indie folk/rock with a wry, self-aware smirk. There’s no shortage of irony with this duo, consisting of Haley Grant and Kaylee Jasperson, as they sing about social paralysis atop harmonic, upbeat folk-pop and soft, fuzzy west coast guitar rock. While the music sounds lazed and content, the lyrics are running wild – channeling the inner monologues of a constantly apprehensive introvert. What are we gonna talk about, what if I can’t move my mouth / Oh what to say, my mind’s producing its own rain
are hardly the kind of verses that one would suspect would be paired with lead single ‘Sorry, I’m Busy’ – which features a far sunnier musical disposition. The bouncy, melodic verses of ‘Moving My Body’ wouldn’t necessarily lend themselves to lyrics about feeling constrained by external stressors: My hands are tied up and I’m shaking…your voice and your words are restricting, I feel like I’m in a corset.
Even the jaw-droppingly gorgeous dual vocals on ‘Mannequin’ allude to isolation: I see outside, it sure looks nice / But not nearly as nice as the inside…I’m a mannequin.
That’s the nature of She Won’t Make Sense
though, an album that takes the panicked internal conflicts of a social misfit and projects them onto carefree, lighthearted surfaces.
The album is a bit of a departure from The Harmaleighs’ 2015 debut, Pretty Picture, Dirty Brush
, which focused intently on the project’s folk leanings. Here, everything feels a bit more fleshed out – the guitars buzz instead of limiting themselves to gentle strums and timid picks, and the drums/vocals/mixing all feel more dynamic and indie-rock oriented. This could be a turn-off for fans of their bohemian folk roots, as some of the melodies and hooks aren’t quite
as sticky, but it’s for the most part a worthwhile tradeoff as She Won’t Make Sense
feels like a more energized, invigorating experience. Album highlight ‘Dim the Light’, for example – with its percussively driven chorus and erupting harmonies – never would have found a place on the band’s debut, proof that The Harmaleighs are progressing in a way that works for their current vision as well as their future. For the folk purist in us all, however, there’s still gorgeous gems like the sweet, vocal-centric ‘I Don’t Know Myself’ – the album’s thematic arc with regards to self-alienation – sprinkled throughout. She Won’t Make Sense
is a generous blend of styles, and a very graceful stepping stone to the next chapter in this duo’s career.