As we edge towards Valentine’s day the bombardment of ‘best love songs’ and ‘perfect gifts for your loved one’ can start to wear away at your sanity. What you need then is some dreamy pop that will transport you somewhere else and block out the mass marketing. That is to say, you need Harrys Gym in your ears.
Hailing from Norway, Harrys Gym consists of Anne Lise Frøkedal (vocals, guitar), Erlend Ringseth (keyboard), Bjarne Stensli (drums), and Ole Myrvold (bass guitar). Formed in 2006, their self-titled debut album was released in 2008 to a promising reception in Norway, and more recently in the UK. This, their second album, seemingly draws on the same influences making the most of sultry and enchanting vocals.
Indeed it is Anne’s vocals that are most striking about album opener and current single ‘Old Man’. With a swirling soundscape slowly constructing itself, Anne sedately draws us in pleading “won’t you please forgive/we managed to walk them in/we managed to walk them in/before we heard”. Akin to Emiliana Torrini working with Mew, this is ethereal stuff.
Other notable tracks include ‘Mountains’ – punctuated with tribal drums we are transported onto a dark and desolate Nordic journey (“mountains are red/the hills are glowing with the blood in your veins”). ‘Sailing Home’ is similarly impressive, managing to sound like increasingly up-beat synth pop yet laced throughout with a sense of melancholy. Indeed, from start to end this is a recurring pattern guided by the vocal talents of Frøkedal set against the prog rock ambitions of the band.
Like Harrys Gym before it, not all the tracks live up to the exceptional standard they set for themselves. Consistency isn’t everything, and an album of varied beauty is of course preferable to unvarying blandness. Nevertheless, you’re left feeling like you wish some of the tracks weren’t so focused on the undeniably mesmeric vocals.
Overall then, Harrys Gym continue to show considerable promise with their latest offering, transporting us into a world of dreamy prog-rock driven along by impressively emotional vocals. No doubt this will bring in some new fans, as well as satisfying their previous followers. What next? Well, we can wait in anticipation for that difficult…er…third album. - Matt Coxon
MySpace | Website