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Boy Harsher | Careful | Album Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

The self-described dark electronic band Boy Harsher released their new album Careful on Feb. 1. Despite gothic influences, the new album falls closer to classic new-wave bands, like New Order or Depeche Mode but retains a certain gothic influence that more closely resembles artists such as Lebanon Hanover.

Their early days as Teen Dreamz, when producer Augustus Muller scored short stories from vocalist Jae Matthews, seem to fit with their current tone. Careful would work well as the soundtrack to a cyberpunk film noir.

“Keep Driving” introduces the album with the sound of cars passing on a highway as bassy synths simulate the sound of the engines going by. An uneasy shepherd’s tone persists through the layers of faded vocals and creepy creaking, giving listeners a sense of anxiety that carries throughout the work.  Songs like “Come Closer,” “The Look You Gave (Jerry),” and “Lost” ride on top of a plucky synth line that keeps their momentum going. 

If these driving synths ever take a break, the industrial drums pick up the slack. Along with heavy orchestral hits on “LA,” the gated reverb slaps against the beat, recalling popular percussion most often heard in 80s pop tracks. Here, however, these familiar sounds seem distant, muted as if echoing out of the past like phantom moans. 

Careful is not pop. It twists together driving club rhythms with synths that seem to float over an 8-bit skyline. Combined with dark ambient pitch bends and lack luster vocals, the album seems to describe a night at the club ruined by a bad trip of some kind. Unfortunately, the repetitious motion becomes monotonous somewhere along the way, leaving one to ask—much like a bad trip—is this going to last forever?

The album does offer the occasional moment of originality. In a way, it’s an uncompromising album great for fans craving new, pure darkwave standards.

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