Released: 29th May 2020
Written and recorded by Fucked Up’s Jonah Falco and Mike Haliechuk, ‘Harmony Avenue’ is far removed from the abrasive nature of the day job. Like Of Montreal playing post-punk, or a marrying of minds between Britpop swagger and metronomic Krautrock, ‘Harmony Avenue’ is an intriguing, almost unfathomable, mixture of styles and ideas.
Now based in London, England, there’s a sense that much of ‘Harmony Avenue’ is influenced by Falco’s adopted homeland, whether that’s in the glorious psych-pop of opener’ J Terrapin’ or the trippy acid house beats of ‘(Don’t Break My) Devotion’. Throw in the languid ‘Broadstairs Beach’ – buzzing with a sugar-rush and resplendent in its gaudy Hawaiian shirt finery – and you have an album that, in its brightest pop moments, dazzles like a lazy late Summer evening.
It also means ‘Harmony Avenue’ is something of a colourful and freewheeling sojourn through timeless pop, even if such wildly disparate songs have all the hallmarks of a new band trying to find their style and sound. Not everything sticks, but there is no denying the bravery or the intention behind every cut.
Fortunately, for all the stylistic shifting, it is not complete chaos. Falco’s delivery and abstract lyrics hold everything together, adding an appropriate level of absurdity, and this matches the playful music and instrumentation. On closer ‘Motherman’ Jade Hairpins even have space to take a deep dive into Hacienda-style euphoria, with an epic seven-minute slow build. For an album that is choc-full of character, it serves as an appropriate exclamation point on an intriguing, and often beguiling, first paragraph.