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EP Review: Harper – A New Kind Of Fear

Hailing from East London Harper are Matthew Broadbent (Lead vocals, guitar) Daniel Bhattacharya (Lead guitar, backing vocals) Jamie Simpson (Bass, backing vocals) and Toby Thacker. (Drums)

The band formed around 2 years ago and have been a regular fixture on the live circuit in that part of the world ever since. A New Kind Of Fear is the band’s latest release but despite flashes of real quality I just don’t get it.

The first thing that you’ll notice when you hit play on this record is that style wise it sounds a hell of a lot like Royal Blood. This is a lot more than just an influence, on this evidence Harper sound like a ‘Royal Blood – lite.’ The problem with that is that Royal Blood are one of the hottest new rock bands on the planet right now and you aren’t going to beat that. You give people an easy comparison to make in their heads and you aren’t going to win. However even when you get past that the EP in my eyes is still very hit and miss.

On the first few listens I really didn’t like opening track Electric Headlock. It’s grown on me a bit since but it’s still not my favourite by any means. The compression effect on the intro is absolutely pointless, it’s only 10 seconds long but I’m really not sure why it’s there. On first listen the song sounds untidy and the changes in the drums feel like they stunt the song, but after a few listens it seems to flow a lot better; I guess you kind of acclimatise. It’s not all negative though I do quite like the guitar work; fuzzy guitars are nearly always a good thing.

Second track China Foot is a lot quicker and through the intro and the opening verse I really thought that I would like it but then the chorus completely lost me. The drums and the tempo change and the whole thing just sounds really messy. The band are aiming for the Royal Blood organised chaos type of chorus but when you break down those hooks from Royal Blood the sound is still really tight and on point. Everything here may well be in time from a technical standpoint but it sounds so messy and disjointed from the outside.

I know I’ve been really quite critical but it isn’t all bad as the penultimate and title track A New Kind Of Fear is the best thing on this EP by and absolute country mile. It’s like everything that the band to want to be just clicks. For 5 glorious minutes everything just slides into place. The song goes through more phases than a teenager’s wardrobe with every one of them bringing something new to the table. The gritty riffs are brilliant and so is the thundering bassline which pulls the whole thing along. It’s such a shame that the band couldn’t seem to harness this more concise and brilliantly cohesive sound for more than one song.

Closing track Cicada sees the band return to their previously untidy selves. The song doesn’t really flow at all and sounds hugely disjointed. The drums just sound like they don’t fit. I said something similar above but it applies to this song and the majority of the EP as well. If you isolate the individual parts of the song they work; they are all in time and sound perfectly fine. However when they are put together they sound incredibly awkward.

I don’t like being negative about things that I review but I place honesty above pretty much everything else. I get what Harper were trying to do here but I just don’t think that it’s worked. That being said I do believe that the band are a hell of a lot better than they have showed here. Somewhere deep down this band have a great record in them; just sadly it isn’t this one.

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