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Harker - Lights Go Out (Wiretap Records)

12 December 2023

This is my second review of a band from Brighton, UK in as many days; there must be something in the water down there. Then again, it was always an effortlessly cool and wonderfully creative place; I spent many a night boozing and bouncing around to long-forgotten underground bands in the Prince Albert or The Concorde II, in my younger days, so the fact that I, for the second day running, find a Brighton band is under the pen, isn’t really that much of shock.

Harker bristles with punk-ish energy, though there is just as much alt-rock swagger about them, and it is the combination of these two forces that keeps them from falling either into the cliche of the former or the sonic excesses of the latter. It’s a fine line to walk, which they do perfectly, and an excellent place to find yourself.

And “Lights Go You,” their latest single, sounds like what pop-punk could have been if it hadn’t merely settled for merely borrowing the same few beats, its prevalence for jock schlock and toilet humor, and that “look how crazy we are routine.”(Yes, Blink 41, I’m looking at you!) No, Harker strives to be better than that; they don’t settle for such easy benchmarks, and the results speak for themselves.

“Lights Go Out” is punchy yet poised, running on a staccato, on/off groove, and because of this, it is spacious when it wants to be and weighty when it fills in the gaps. Cool guitar lines snake through the space between the chorus and verse, the song is eminently sing-along-able, and the whole thing is totally and undeniably infectious. Then again, you could argue that early punk was just pop music sped up, ramped up, roughed up, amphetamined up, and cranked up. If so, Harker makes music with the same rebellious and rabble-rousing spirit. Nice!