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Her’s

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.

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glasshertzz Her's

Her’s Photograph by Glasshertzz

INTERVIEW: Her’s @ Night & Day Cafe

Rumour has it, it takes two to tango. But it also takes two to undoubtedly secure your summer playlist some 5/6 months in advance. Her’s are the latest group set to spearhead the music scene forward, beyond dusky days of scuzzy indie rock and into a glittering dream pop fantasia. Amongst bands such as King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard, The Orielles and HMLTD, there is a new sense of fun that’s taken ahold of music recently, with a he-who-dares-wins attitude & a slick of fluro pink.

The pair played their first ever live gig in Manchester, at Oldham Street’s The Castle Hotel as support for Jawz – “a little Jawz not the big JAWS” – skip ahead a year or so and they’re just a bit further down the street at the infamous Night & Day Cafe, now headlining. Back to The Castle. Their first take to a stage set was a pacing calamity of four songs with the boys having booked the gig without having yet written any tracks, as a sort of motivator to get their gears going. Though one of those first tracks happened to be Marcel, the dusky and incredibly romantic – with a heart-line of surf-pop – three-minute tale of love loss (perhaps poured out by a man named Marcel, but we are none the wiser) which has become a key member of their collection of dreamy pop tracks.

Back to Night & Day’s sombre, hard-worn, basement green-room. Stephen Fitzpatrick and Audun Laading met at the Paul McCartney led acclaimed Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA) whilst both studying a BA (Hons) in Music and, through divine intervention, miraculously had the exact same timetable. The pair recall frequently clocking each other and apprehensively nodding until they were soon pulled together coincidentally playing in the same bands through their friend Brad Mullins, drummer of Trudy and the Romance. The duo soon noticed that they are indeed very like-minded individuals, with a clearly similar outlook as summarised by Audun: “in music university you’re surrounded by people who take it very seriously which was pretty daunting. I’ve always been very passionate about music but not in such a strict technical way. I just like making nice songs and creating a nice vibe really.” Thankfully their mindsets are thus alike and the pair have joined forces to make “nice songs for nice people.” Their university years brought a change to their sound, moulded by way of the development of their studies and the emergence of new acts and artists that acquired merit on their radar. “We went through a heavy stage of The Beatles.” mentions Stephen, with Audun quipping about the natural driving force within Liverpool: “you go to sleep and think of The Beatles, you wake up and think of The Beatles.”

If only this normality belonged to more than fantasy

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When it comes to current acts, their preference falls upon the likes of the eclectic Ariel Pink and Sean Nicholas Savage, amongst others. Throughout their already remarkably heavy-ladened tour schedules, they’ve found favourites in those they’ve accompanied, such as Kagoule, Wild Nothing, Dutch Uncles and London-based band Happyness – “not an obvious fit for us at first but that was a really good, loud and goofy tour.” Beyond their similar music and life tastes, the pair are quite mismatched in terms of their hometown, which equally don’t seem to conjure up their glistening dream-pop theme. Stephen is from Barrow-In-Furness, known for “building submarines. Everyone builds submarines” and Audun is from Kristansands in southern Norway known apparently for Julius; a famous monkey that calls the local zoo his home and even has a bread named after him. A world away from their hometown’s perhaps not-so sunny reality, Her’s have a sound that they describe as dreamy, unpretentious and – in the context of a fruit – either a mango or a pineapple; “the hard exterior with a bright, juicy middle” says Audun, which Stephen chases up with “if it were a drink, I’d probably say Fanta Fruit Twist.”

👋🏻 @thatbandofhers at Hello 2018 @theoldbluelast last month

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In terms of their sound and overall persona, the choice to have two lead men and a drum machine instead of a drummer seems to have been a completely natural fit. A skilled drummer, when it came to crunch time for their first gig, Stephen came equipped with a drum machine so it was easy to slot amongst their scarcely practiced, short set-list, performed by a similarly minded pair; “We naturally like hanging out as just two people, so it’s easier to write music as two people and add the little drum machine.” Though, when it comes to hardened music fans favouring a more traditional set-up, there isn’t often a favour for technology; “we often get asked, ‘did the drummer not show up?’ which is pretty ridiculous because we can do so many more elaborate sounds with a drum machine, in terms of our music.” Other than this minor mention, Her’s are favoured by all that seem to encounter them.

Having performed with many, and in front of a building fan base that only seems to grow bigger by the day, the surf-pop pair are going from strength to strength with upcoming gigs as far as Paris with Boy Pablo & Bangkok with Beach Fossils, alongside their own headline tour which kick starts a little more close to home at Fulford Arms in York on Thursday 12th April. Festival-wise, Her’s are stepping in at Live At Leeds and Great Escape festival, with promises of a debut album coming out this year. With one of the pair living on the top floor and the other living on the bottom floor of the exact same Liverpudlian apartment block, life ahead for the duo seems idyllic, particularly as it’s met with a packed-out Night & Day and an audience that appears to know the words to every single one of their tracks. The future is bright for Her’s and we can’t wait to experience it.

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