Harper Blynn - Loneliest Generation
Record Label: Baby Jackal Records
Release Date: May 11, 2010
To understand the Brooklyn quintet Harper Blynn, one needs to start with the band's inner circle. The album was produced by David Kahne (Paul McCartney, The Strokes, Regina Spektor) and Malcolm Burn (Emmylou Harris, Chris Whitley, Kaki King) and appears on Baby Jackal Records, a label co-founded by the band and Arthur Mann, co-founder of Rykodisc. But maintaining ties with movers and shakers can really only do so much. In the end, the gravitas and originality of the music itself is where bands can really distance themselves from their peers. And on their debut record Loneliest Generation, Harper Blynn takes a giant step beyond their contemporaries, and moves into a category all their own.
Inspired by the harmonizing of vocalists Peter Harper and J. Blynn, the band calls to mind a 21st century Simon and Garfunkel and crafts melodies that would even make The Beatles blush. Stunning for its precision, effortlessness and timelessness, Loneliest Generation is an intimate, well-worn and enchantingly familiar collection of 10 near-flawless roots-rock gems. Album opener "25 Years," is sweetly affecting, jangly and cradled in Blynn's impassioned crooning. There's a quintessential bounce to each passing second that screams superiority. It's repeated on the crackling first single, "This Is It," and never lets up until the disc's final second. From the tender ballad "All the Noise," to the country strut of "Luck Struck Kitty," there's a potency and a contagion that seems to emanate from the speakers.
Other triumphant moments include "Steal Your Love," a groove-based jam, guided by a slinky guitar line and Blynn's winning vocals; and "The Doubt," an aching ballad accentuated by falsetto, hushed acoustics and copious amounts of brushes. However, "All Pretenders," and "It May Be Late," stake their claim as the album's apex, with the former leaving it all on the table and throwing out all that's great about the band ––– deft piano, resplendent harmonies, air-tight rhythm section, crystalline production ––– and the latter feeding off a stunning piano line.
Loneliest Generation is perfectly executed folk-pop that's thoughtful, finely tuned and without flaw. The quartet is unabashedly cohesive, hopeful and brimming with potential. Fueled by ruminative declarations such as "We're not just hippie kids or disco queens in plaid, that's all over now, if every chance I take is one you never had, then how can I expect you to understand anyhow?" this is a deeply probing work that offers the viewpoints of a quarter-life lived, hoped for and wished for. In the end, what's probably most refreshing about the quartet is that in a crowded Brooklyn indie scene hell-bent on placing vanity above content and substance, Harper Blynn offer up simple, no-frills songcraft with an unassuming modesty and a self-confidence that is refreshing, invigorating and downright hypnotic.
You took the words out of my mouth. 100 percent agreement. The same EXACT idea has been floating in my head for the past two weeks. You rule.
Haha that's great. Looked them up on youtube after reading this and the thought came to my mind immediately when I heard the three part "what are you waiting for?" harmony on "This Is It." Love that vintage esque sound. Awesome review, YOU rule for bringing these guys to my attention.
When these guys were called Pete and J, they played on my school's (Univ. of Delaware) tv station. They replayed their little performance every night for a couple of months and I was pretty obsessed over it. I can't believe these guys are still around!