Based on the story behind the name of New York’s The Harrow, it may not take a genius to imagine what music they offer. The Harrow is “an elegant means of capital punishment: a series of needles to inflict torture, pain and understanding”. The Harrow in musical form create an authentic aura which doesn’t just sound influenced by the early 1980’s post-punk/cold wave movement but could easily be mistaken for actually being made between 1981 and 1983, such is the attention to period detail. A key member of the group is Greg Fasolino who achieved similarly impressive results with Bell Hollow in the mid-2000’s.
‘To A Figure’ sounds classy as soon as its doomy bass and programmed drums can be heard; recalling both The Wolfgang Press and The Cocteau Twins on a purely instrumental level. At the forefront are Vanessa Irena’s clear yet doomy vocals casting an inescapable feeling of despair whereas Fasolino’s delicate, chiming guitar offers a rare chink of light. ‘The Fall’ witnesses Barrett Hiatt’s prodding keyboards and Frank Deserto’s bass driving the core melody and by the time of the sinister ‘Milk And Honey’, the talented foursome are clearly on a roll; the song carries an insistent and gripping momentum which doesn’t let up. It is left to ‘The River’ and ‘Requiem’ to bring the EP to an atmospheric, almost funereal close; both show an excellent understanding of space and dynamics and are likely to haunt the listener for some time after they have finished playing.
The Harrow may receive some flak for obsessing with a sound which was at the peak of popularity thirty years ago but nostalgia is rarely delivered with such dignity and devotion to the post-punk scene. Just like the instrument which inspired the name, they are certainly elegant performers but the message they deliver is darkly addictive rather than painful.
Cocteau Twins, The Wolfgang Press, Breathless, Lowlife, Bell Hollow