Harry Howard And The NDE : The Near Death Experience
Harry Howard is by no means lurking in the shadow of his brother Rowland. If anything this album is testament to what a high caliber of musical stock the Howards are bred from. Both troubled and suffering a multitude of hardships, Harry has chosen a post-punk via '60s garage and psychedelia route to deliver his musical musings.
Recalling the stalwarts of the genre, The Modern Lovers and The Fall, Howard’s debut album, The Near Death Experience is a credit to the genre but is by no means confined to it. Howards’ monotone, cynical but simultaneously coy vocals bemoaning the follies of age and women are just as poignant over an organ driven '60s psych-out as they are over a more droning and repetitive '80s new waver.
The album begins with Lies; a matter of fact dig at the truth benders. Organ abounds, an incessant guitar riff infiltrates, while Howard calmly deconstructs the liar. The Fall inspired Old Mans Blues follows on; a wickedly clever anecdote about getting older; “I’m breathing just a little / My shirt's awash with spittle /These days I suck on boiled sweets and not on upright nipple,” Howard comments wryly.
Vocal duties are shared with organ player Edwina Preston on Bloodtest and reminiscent of X-Stina’s from LA band X urgent wail, while (The) Trouble With Girls flaunts vocals and subject content that evoke Howard Devoto of Buzzcocks and Magazine fame. Darling Head steps away from the persevering post-punk and moves into the garage; Nuggets style – with floating vocals customary to the 60s’ psychedelic rock/garage genre. New Shoes sees the album return with somber tones and the foot ware theme continues on Old Black Shoe; with ‘beat’ like lyricism and a shrieking organ solo.
The overarching feel of The Near Death Experience is one of questioning 'why everything is so?' in life; a theme that we all as human beings with petty and not so petty struggles can relate to. Delivered in a witty, dry and often comical manner, what could seem like one really long whine feels like the most of apt of commentaries.
BY KRYSTAL MAYNARD
Best Track: (The) Trouble With Girls
If You Like This, You’ll Like These: The Modern Lovers THE MODERN LOVERS, Talking Heads TALKING HEADS, Live At The Witch Trials THE FALL
In A Word: Droll