Album Review: Loved Ones – Harness

loved onesLoved Ones – Harness

Indie Rock | Baroque Pop | Electronica

73%

It can often be a fine line to walk between experimentation and accessibility. Stray too far one way and your innovative soundscapes will never see the light of day, and lean too far the other way and you risk losing all that once made you unique. Merseyside band Loved Ones have a few wobbles here and there, but otherwise maintain that careful and controlled balancing act. Their new album Harness is carried by its emphatic and evocative piano, most notably on album highlight ‘Cartridge’. The record employs a lot of electronic elements, but the band avoid the lethal pitfall of letting them overpower the music, instead they accentuate what is already there and give the album character. Tracks like ‘End Of An Error’ and ‘Without Face’ match the complex layering with big hooks and infectious melodies to create some sure-fire hits.

The band has spent time away working on material for soundtracks, and their growing skill in the field is captured perfectly in the brief classical instrumental ‘Dagger’. Never before have I known a brief interlude be one of the greatest achievements within an album, but here it adds a touch of elegance and refinement to Harness. Sadly the record as a whole has a pacing problem, mostly down to the top-heavy track listing. All of the album’s finest songs can be found within the first half, leaving the second half with its less accessible filler tracks feeling a little lacklustre. A quick shuffle around with the play order would do wonders and better maintain the listeners’ undivided attention. Loved Ones’ aforementioned balancing act isn’t perfect, but they remain stable and confident long enough to produce some of the most compelling tracks of the year.

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