New Politics – A Bad Girl In Harlem
Record Label: RCA Records
Release Date: May 21 2013
A couple months back, I reviewed the first single for Dutch trio New Politics “Harlem”, on new record, A Bad Girl In Harlem. A friend of mine recommended this band to me, and I was instantly curious, just because I absolutely adore indie-rock and indie-pop. Those are some of my favorite genres, so needless to say, I was all over that single. I really enjoyed how straightforward and how catchy it was. The hook on that track was a monster, and it could easily get stuck in your head if you’re not careful. Fast forward a couple months, and the band’s new record A Bad Girl In Harlem finally is released for the public to hear. The public certainly seems to be interested, because “Harlem” is finally making a splash on billboard charts. For good reason, too, because this song is easily one of my favorites on the entire record. Speaking of the whole record, however, that’s a good and a bad thing that it’s one of my favorites. It’s a certainly a good thing, because it’s a wonderful track, and easily one of the highlights on the entire album. The downside to that, though, is that the album is insanely short. Clocking in at about 33 minutes, it’s one of the shortest albums I’ve heard all year, especially for an indie record. The length may be a bit shorter than what I’m used to, but that’s not necessarily a hindrance to the entire record. It’s not a bad record, it just seems way too short than what it should be. This band is really awesome, so it’s kind of shocking to me that they would release a record that’s not even 40 minutes long. If they want to make a quick lasting impression, they’ve certainly done just that. Because the record is so short, it does mean you have to pay attention to it to truly understand it, and listen to it. Some bands can get away with shorter records, because the record itself is truly wonderful, with New Politics being an example. Even then, their music is rather short, concise, and to the point catchy hooks. That’s what this band seems to enjoy doing, so it does make sense that the record would be quite short. Nonetheless, this band is wonderful, so the fact that it is quite short is rather disappointing. Of course, this doesn’t factor in with the overall music, because that’s truly something to marvel at, to some degree. In a genre where there are plenty of bands trying to remain relevant, or even break out into the mainstream, it takes a truly special sound to stay afloat. New Politics definitely have that sound, so with that being said, let’s take a bad girl into Harlem, and dive into this record, shall we?
The record begins with “Tonight You’re Perfect,” and this song is rather misleading to represent the entire record, especially as an opener. It’s a rather sweet indie pop track with equally cutesy lyrics and a nice breezy melody. This song isn’t as energetic as “Harlem,” but it’s definitely a catchy song, nonetheless. It’s not my favorite, either, but it’s enjoyable. Speaking of “Harlem,” that’s the second track, and it’s easily one of my favorites on here. I love this song in every single way. It’s a very energetic, and off the wall song. It’s rather straightforward, but that’s the best part. After this track, the next few tracks aren’t all too memorable, although they are all catchy songs. Third track “Berlin” is a rather straightforward indie track, but it does have another catchy hook, as most of the tracks do. Following that, fourth track “Stuck On You” has a very catchy chorus, but that’s it. It’s a slower track, and the lyrics are rather cliché, but it’s still enjoyable, nonetheless. The first half of this record is rather interesting, but doesn’t do anything different or unique. Those moments come a bit later. One does show up in the form of fifth track “Give Me Hope.” For the most part, the track is a rather straightforward indie track, but then suddenly, vocalist David Boyd starts rapping out of nowhere. It’s pretty cool, but it’s completely out of nowhere. It’s not like fellow indie band Twenty One Pilots, whom use rapping as a very common vocal technique, because hip-hop is a very important part of their sound.
On the second half of the record, these random “outbursts” do show up a couple of times; “Goodbye Copanhagen” is the third track on the record that namedrops somewhere (first was “Harlem,” and then “Berlin”) that’s actually relevant, considering the band is from Denmark, so this song seems to be all about the trio wanting to leave their homeland, just to follow their dreams. But they do make an effort to say they’ll be back soon. It’s a nice little song about their home, but this song does feature Boyd’s “rapping” in the bridge, and again, it seems really out of place, because it just happens. He’s not bad, but it just seems rather out of place, because it comes so randomly. Next track “Overcome” is even more different, because it’s got a nice breezy reggae sound throughout, and it’s a very enjoyable song. On the opposite side of the spectrum, “Just Like Me” is a very energetic track; it rivals “Harlem,” frankly. In all honesty, it reminds me of bands like the Clash, and the Sex Pistols. Very straightforward pop-punk with very loud and shouted vocals, which is what this song has. I don’t really care for this song very much, because while the rapping parts seemed out of place, this just seems insanely out of place. And to make things even stranger, last track “Fall Into These Arms” is another catchy indie-pop track that doesn’t do anything differently. The biggest problem with this record is that they don’t know what they want to be; at one point, New Politics is an indie-pop band with tracks like “Fall Into These Arms,” “Stuck On You,” and “Tonight You’re Perfect,” but at other times, it seems like they try to be a pop-punk band with tracks like “Harlem,” and “Just Like Me.” Then they throw in a reggae song “Overcome” into the mix, and you have a band who is clearly trying to be very ambitious, but doesn’t know what kind of band they are. It’s one thing for a band to be ambitious, and to throw different “sounds” into their records. Chicago pop-rock/R&B/alternative band Fall Out Boy is one who knows this very well. Vocalist Patrick Stump can write one heck of a song, but he understands that a band needs direction, and the one thing that keeps me from really liking this record is its lack of direction. It doesn’t flow very well together, and that keeps me from really enjoying it. Most of the songs on here are very enjoyable, but as a whole, it falls a bit short. Nonetheless, it’s a nice indie record that indie fans should check out.