One could be forgiven for thinking, on first being introduced to this little EP, that Harbors hail from good ol' London town. There's a real touch of the aesthetic that's been so ubiquitous here in the last few years; the artless simplicity tinged with just a touch of vocal venom that made the Mystery Jets, Johnny Flynn, et al so popular. The interplay between the drums and acoustic guitars, specifically, gives the impression that the players want us to think they've never picked up an instrument before, when in actuality it's a very controlled, thoroughly thought-out approach.
As it happens, this particular foursome are from farther-flung shores entirely; those of California, in point of fact. One assumes there's probably something to be said for how the 'London sound' of recent times owes it's origin to musicians who spent far too long listening to acts from across the pond (but who were nonetheless still unable to repress their Englishness entirely), but this comparison doesn't tell the full story of this EP.
I imagine Habors would most likely be very surprised by the comparison, in fact, and it really is just on first listen that it comes to mind. They themselves cite acts like Bright Eyes, The National, and Arcade Fire amongst their influences, although I wouldn't say that paints an accurate picture of the band's sound either. There's none of the furious energy that marks out those other band's best work on display here, but rather a more nuanced and, dare I say it, 'laid back' process at work. The songs on this EP pull their punches until they feel they can really do some damage; the jaunty nature of the 'perfect pop' melodic styling and the cheery organ lines belie a darker underbelly. Harbors are certainly not toothless imitators; there's a depth to the lyrics that juxtaposes with the aesthetic very nicely indeed, and that makes this EP one that actually improves with repeat listening.
My only real complaint with this band is their name: someone really should tell them that it's spelt Harbours. But linguistic snobbery aside, there's really very little to take issue with here. I can't see Harbors conquering the world in the immediate future, but given some time to develop and tighten up their sound I wouldn't be surprised if they prove to be quite successful indeed. I, for one, am eager to hear what they'd do with the more meaty canvas of a full-length album.
Harbors - Ghost [audio //www.bearfacedrecords.com/EbMBlog_mp3s/Harbors/Harbors_Ghost.mp3]
Harbors - Girls Like You [audio //www.bearfacedrecords.com/EbMBlog_mp3s/Harbors/Harbors_GirlsLikeYou.mp3]
Buy the full EP here.