Record Label: Harris
Release Date: October 4, 2005
Listening to “Solid Ground,” the opener on Harris’ debut, The Light is Seeping Through the Cracks, is like listening to a brief summary of the entire album. Its opening features exceedingly ugly vocals and an unnecessary, dissonant organ riff, leaving even the most accepting listeners wondering “WTF?” Then, midway through the song, lead vocalist Mike Nastri and Jim Reed trade shrieks like Vendetta Red on the delicious “P.S. Love the Black.” Their method is simple, but it saves the song from total irrelevance.
The rest of the record is similarly polarizing. Some tracks will undoubtedly leave listeners shaking their heads and skipping ahead. On “Worse Company,” Nastri sings like a tone-deaf madman over an unmemorable beat and a forced guitar line. “Silent Treatment” is even worse. In fact, it is pointless and unworthy of description.
Other tracks fail but are at least interesting. “Too Young to Go,” the album’s most melodic song, hints at a resource Harris has left largely untapped. It’s nothing fantastic but it begs the question, “Why didn’t the band focus on this sound more?” Had it done so, “Too Young to Go” could have spawned several better tracks.
Fortunately, for the patient listener, the record contains a few gems that make it almost worthwhile. “Like Origami” is one of them. It shifts with miraculous ease from rough chords and At the Drive In-esque vocals in the verses to near lite jazz in the chorus. Even the most incorrigible listeners should find something to like. Instrumental “Some Kind of Gospel” is another standout, perhaps because it is a welcome break from Nastri’s oft-grating vocals.
On the whole, Harris’ music would benefit if its members worked as hard on the verses and choruses as they do on the introductions. “Carousel,” for example, opens beautifully, with a delicate palm-muted chord progression and the best organ work on the album. But as soon as Nastri starts singing, the song goes downhill. The instrumentation remains rather radio-friendly, but it loses the unique charm of the intro. Nevertheless, the song may have been a nice pop tune if Nastri sung rather than poorly imitating Cedric Bixler-Zavala.
Likewise, the opening of “New Color” is charming, featuring drummer Rob Lynch’s best work and a haunting reverb chord progression. Unfortunately, the progression disappears in the chorus, replaced by an unnecessary organ line.
These songs, along with several others, give the record a forced feel. It’s almost as if most of its tracks were written days before they were recorded, like Harris, for some reason, rushed to put this out. If its members take the time necessary to develop future efforts into full, coherent albums, they might go somewhere. With this, they aren’t headed anywhere other than the dollar bin.
I definitely think ths album is way better than you described it. I've had this thing for a year. I don't totally get the At the Drive-In comparisons; I think you'd have been better off relating them to Cap'n Jazz and Braid.