Reviving indie music through the ‘shock’ treatment

Long live independent music. In particular, long live the lo-fi indie rock. Long live it’s pretension, cramped shows, half-understood lyrics, and it’s ability to bring people together. Beauty pageant talk aside, Shocking Pinks self-titled debut album is as interesting as what the name references ( John Hughes 80s cult classic “Pretty In Pink”).

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By Corinne Love

By Corinne Love

Long live independent music. In particular, long live the lo-fi indie rock. Long live it’s pretension, cramped shows, half-understood lyrics, and it’s ability to bring people together.

Beauty pageant talk aside, Shocking Pinks self-titled debut album is as interesting as what the name references ( John Hughes 80s cult classic “Pretty In Pink”).

Shocking Pinks auteur Nick Harte is a one-man band, having produced, recorded, engineered and wrote 16 of the 17 tracks in New Zealand.

The one exception, the late cellist Arthur Russell’s “You can make me feel bad,” which sounds somewhat like a B-Side from the Jesus and Mary Chain.

Similar to the song title’s malcontent, “Shocking Pinks” is a good spin of heartbreak inducing punk riffs, dream pop melodies, and climactic percussion solos. And much like the Russell’s cover, Harte is similar to that of the cellist with his hybrid of sounds that are hard to pin down exactly.

The album is all over the place in terms of genre. It’s almost like a cross section reference on what’s been musically going on in the indie music scene.

Fans of just about anything that shakes, moves and contemplates will find a track to repeat over and over again.

The issue here is which one?

This is not to say that the album is consistently great, it’s not. The real fun ( or the real misery) does not start until track 5 “End of the world.”

Until that track, it’s almost as if Harte had been holding back. From that point on, the album explodes into a quiet racket of percussion and feedback. “Blonde Haired Girl,” starts immediately with muddled noise and loud guitars played carelessly.

Amidst all that noise, Harte’s thin cracking voice sways in and out with blue and bleak lyrics covering a central theme of love long lost found in “Jealousy,” and the very catchy “How am I not myself?”

Harte also mediates between medicated worries, wry observations and a startling paranoia towards relationships. “The Narrator,” with its creepy synthetic organ sound is a dreary testament to “Shocking Pinks” content.

Harte gets a bit “emo” lyrically painting himself into corners that shrinks with every verse. The good news about the album is that the music rarely reflects Harte’s melancholy.

For the most part, “Shocking Pink” is perpetually upbeat. The short but sweet tracks, “Yes!No!,” “Cutout,” and “Emily” prove that Harte’s love of percussion will readily translate to listeners who like moody but loud music.

“Victims,” and “Smokescreen” will leave listeners foot tapping to the strange rythms of what can only be described as metal cans jingling and a thick bass line. It’s weird but it definitely works. For a debut album, “Shocking Pinks” is worth having. Musical afficionados will appreciate the diversity and just about everyone will find something to relate to in Harte’s somber but vivid world.

Simplistic and diligently produced throughout, “Shocking Pinks” shows it’s listeners that everybody hurts sometimes but it might as well sound good.

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