With artists like Billie Eilish and Post Malone redefining genre in music, listeners have begun to prefer a blend of rock, hip-hop, what have you, than a more traditional “genre” sound. Eilish and Malone’s own twist on genre have proven to be what critics and listeners prefer than an artist simply just redefining a set genre.
Granted, this is in the context of the mainstream pop-sphere; underneath in the independent realm there is a much more concentrated sound brewing. Where garage rock and crooning power pop dominated the alternative rock scene in the 80s and 90s, a darker, heavier version of new wave synth pop — aptly named “darkwave” — has resurged in the 2000s.
Boy Harsher, though obscure, is the act that is leading the resurgence of darkwave by redefining the genre for a modern audience. Their second album “Careful” is a polished record that perfects the duo’s pulsing beats and darkly sweet lyrics. Made up of Jae Matthews and Gus Muller, the band has proven that they have what it takes to be the “poster band” for the genre (the King and Queen of Darkwave, if you will).
Their cute meet is all you’d need to know to get a peek inside their musical oeuvre. While attending film school in Savannah, Georgia, Matthews spotted Muller dancing at a club to New Order’s “Bizarre Love Triangle” and sent him her writing. Then the rest is history, as they say.
Starting out as DJs playing goth-themed nights at clubs, the duo home-recorded their first album and EP. But “Careful” is as perfectly fleshed-out as an album could be, while still maintaining the “garage rock” feel of their previous recordings. A standout single from the album is “LA,” a Lynchian tale of existential dread in the City of Dreams. The song’s lyrics — describing the ups and downs of love — is perfectly accompanied with a dreamy music video of a camgirl gone rogue.
Released earlier this year, “Careful” is a standout album of 2019, and definitely the signature mark of Boy Harsher’s career.
By Michael Jacobo
Photo credit: Nedda Afsari