Oh Helsinki, so much to answer for, indeed, the whole of
Scandinavia so much to answer for. This large chunk of Europe is so often
criminally ignored when the world of indie pop decides who the heroes are,
that is surely a travesty of talent, a complete misrepresentation of what is
actually going on out there in the fjords, birch woods and saunas of North
Eastern Europe – that’s not too stereotypical is it?
Throughout a glittering five song set Harry Hunks manage
to cast a spell that will hold you, entranced and enchanted, desperate with
desire and wishing for more. In addition to their standard four piece line up
– vocals, guitars, keyboards and rhythm this record also embraces luscious
insertions of brass and strings which evoke visions of Belle and Sebastian,
Joe Jackson, and Nick Drake. The song writing is strong, and the performance
is neat, well structured and effortlessly presented.
‘The Guy Who Makes Horses Run and the Frogs Fly’, is
musically, as the title may suggest, an indelibly lullaby-esque, dreamy,
drifting, lilting tune but with a darker, much more sinister lyrical line. The
chilling juxtaposition of which makes for a comforting but menacing ditty.
‘Snooze Alarm’ is a pseudo pop, almost rockabilly rhythm, in places it alludes
to Billy Bragg, a gentle start, easing into a semi-euphoric chorus, it’s a
‘Ugliest Surfer’ is typical indie pop fare, a tale of
loss and rejection, whilst always maintaining that the sun will still come up
in the morning, and that life will always get that little bit better somewhere
along the line, “just pick up anyone who is nice…”. Musically it is
Belle and Seb-ish, with a longing Casio keyboard break (what’s the
Scandinavian for ‘Dixons’?). ‘Slow Air’ isn’t so much of a slow air, more of
an acoustic driven slab of melancholia, which explodes after the middle eight
into an almost Wedding Present-ish guitar and brass (come on, work with me
here) outro. It really does work, it does.
Finally ‘Lets Not Go to Vienna’ closes the E.P. Sliding
in with an exquisite xylophone break (now that’s something you don’t hear
everyday). It, again is reminiscent of Billy Bragg – I’m thinking ‘Ontario,
Quebec, and Me’, ‘Bread and Circuses’ and ‘Heart like a Wheel’. It’s simple,
but convoluted, the structure is plain, but the emotive nature is twisting and
turning. The cello break makes ‘Lets Go to Vienna’ simply to die for. It’s
sweet, luscious beauty.
KLM Fly from London to Helsinki for £150, it’s worth a
More by this author
I like to think that after all
the music I have listened to over the years, I know what I like and although an
album should not be judged on its first hearing, I still know whether it is
quality or just more middle of the road mediocrity. Shows what I know! This
Farrah CD did very little for me on its initial outing. Joe Jackson’s ‘Different
for Girls’ stood out a country mile leaving the rest as pleasant good time tunes
that faded as rapidly as the ending of each track. Do not be fooled, this is
quality power pop that is well written by lead vocalist Jez Ashurst and is
beautifully delivered by this talented 4 piece outfit.
My next mistake would be to pick
out certain tracks as being better than the rest. To put it simply they are all
good and although slight disappointment occurs as one finishes, the freshness
and quality of the next immediately takes its place. Time after time the music
infectiously kicks in and astuteness of the lyrics then completely hook your
full attention. Cleverly the first two tracks, ‘Tongue Tied’ and ‘Daytime TV’
are totally addictive. The album then settles into a series of very enjoyable
well-written songs, which maintain the listener’s interest and enjoyment to the
end. So perhaps mentioning that ‘This is My Life’, ‘Wake Up’ and the final
track ‘High and Low’ are all exceptionally good as well, is unnecessary. In fact
the only track that in anyway seems out of place is Joe’s cover version. This
band is good enough in its own right.
‘Me Too’ is Farrah’s second
album. I totally missed the first one titled ‘Moustache’ but it if it is half as
good as this one it is only a matter of time before it joins not just my
collection but also my most currently played list.