ALBUM: Her’s – ‘Invitation To Her’s’
WORDS BY BENJAMIN CASSIDY
Her’s are the unstoppable Liverpool-based duo that have risen through the ranks over the past year and have now released their long-awaited debut album. There’s certainly bags of character to it, coupled with wonderfully imaginative music. The first influence/comparison that sprang to mind was perhaps Belle & Sebastian. The music is a lot of fun and easy to listen to, but the lyrical prowess shows wit and intelligence, and even a darkness at times.
‘Invitation to Her’s’ opens with ‘Harvey’, with gentle, ethereal melodies that are counterpoised against a somewhat mournful sounding vocal. It gives off a slow, ballad type feel, in the poetic sense that the song is a story, more than a statement or anthem, in the traditional sense.
‘If You Know What’s Right’, the third track, has a carnival type vibe to it, but again, if you listen carefully, there’s much more than just pop-tones and pretty, bubbly melodies. The potential pain and melancholy is deftly under-stated – like The Smiths, but not as obvious and a little more nuanced – in terms of theme. Comparisons always feel a little bit of a cop-out in album reviews – perhaps even more so with a band’s debut album, so it’s important to know that these guys can’t be pigeon-holed.
The Smiths feel comes from the contrasting sound and lyrics, that combines upbeat with serious topics. Those groups mentioned certainly come through in certain songs – and parts of them – but there no clones. This group has clearly worked hard to find and hone its own sound. They show that with the diversity they offer, between songs. ‘Carry the Doubt’, for example, embraces the more sombre side and is more haunting to the ear, after leading you into a false sense of security with its light intro, before the ghost-like vocal starts. The deep voice, that sings slowly and softly, is combined with harmonies much higher. The effect is lovely, if a little unsettling – but that only serves to make it more interesting.
At what’s almost the mid-point of the album you start to feel you know where you are. ‘Low Beam’ is a little more revealing than earlier tracks, embracing more fully the suggested melancholia of the singing through matching it with a subdued and low-key beat; but, it’s not that straight-forward for the rest of the album. It continues to bring surprise after surprise. ‘Breathing Easy’ sounds more directly claustrophobic than any of the other songs before it. The heavy synthesiser and occasional piano laid over the top of the track is set at a slow tempo, sort of creating a suffering effect, via music. The different sounds put into a collage is reminiscent of some tracks on Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon (1973).
Directly following this song is Blue Lips, that is a jazzy number, in sound but not lyrically. The flow of the sound of this song, and others, is a little bit like 10CC’s I’m Not in Love. Slow and expressive, with clever lyrics. There’s always more going on in the background with this band than you hear first timer around. More clever use of synthetic sound helps to make the next song, She Needs Him, another marking out of a tendency in this band’s sound – happy, jangly vibes against mournful lyrics – and their own unique take on traditional pop.
The final three songs of the album fuse sound concepts that have already been established, with something new. ‘Love on The Line‘ is quite poppy, when it starts, but once you focus on the lyrics that familiar theme of loneliness and an increasing withdrawal is present. This band draw you in by creating scenarios that make you care for the voice singing about them. The well-sculpted, tight structure of the songs works well to drive the messages home.
The bass heavy intro of the next song, ‘Don’t Think it Over’, is set against sparely delivered snare drumming. This makes for a sound of fatigue, which is an astonishing feat – the fact this is achievable makes one thing sure – you don’t tire of listening to this group. The album ends on a song that sums up what has already been said, though it does it in a unique way. It discusses the painful experiences of love by using a dreamy, slow sound to understate everything. ‘Under Wraps‘ is a gentle sound, with a sadness to it, that is relatable to anyone that’s been in love. It works so well as something that reaches the listener because of the general truth it talks of, instead of being a personal outpouring. It’s clear that everything being created is measured and delivered with careful planning. That’s a sign of the work that’s gone into this much anticipated debut album.
Overall, this is a debut album that’s innovative, thoughtful, and as a result memorable. As mentioned, comparisons will always be made, but that shouldn’t detract from the originality of this album. It’s a soundscape, that fuses the melodic with the melancholic. The songs tell stories and demand attention, whether they intend to or not. As a first album, this brings much promise. It’s a great late summer selection that discusses lost love, strangeness and hints at the darker emotions of life, that are always there, but often go unnoticed – so quite a poignant listen.
The music reveals itself slowly building an atmosphere that the lyrics compliment so well. The familiar is somehow made new. With its unique sounds, tight mixing and layering of precise instrumentation, together with the wisdom of the words, sang in a voice possessive of a wide vocal range. What is created is an album that you could almost swear you’ve heard before, but you most definitely haven’t. Make sure you do, as you’re not likely to hear much else any time soon that manages to achieve what this album does so effortlessly: catchy melodies, creative mixing, with thoughtful lyrics. The next time you do will be their next release.