These Sheffield punks know how to shake things up. Their debut record, Whatever, was an enjoyable slab of retro emo/punk, but it did little to separate them from the hoards of bands doing similar things. Fast forward two years, and these Brits sure are seriously onto something. This latest incarnation of Nai Harvest is bananas, in the best way possible. Sure, they haven’t suddenly become the most unique or original bands on the planet, but Nai Harvest has somehow figured out what they want to do; Hairball is proof they’re doing that very effectively.
Hairball is the opposite of a sophomore slump, showcasing the hope Nai Harvest’s new fuzz pop/punk hybrid sound is here to stay. It’s a distinctly British rock sound that favors subtle bouts of aggression over over-stimulation. It has a fun production quality that allows the fuzzy and grungy elements of the band reign, while sounding clean and big. It’s still impressive how much sound this duo produces. The biggest problem with the album is two-fold and very minor. First off, one of the weaker songs on the album, “Spin” is the opener, so you have to clear the hurdle to get to the meat of the album; luckily, this is a low hurdle, as it’s still a solid, hooky track. Second, the whole album takes a couple listens to fully click. Each of these tracks has a sufficiently powerful earworm, but they are not the quickest worms in the universe. Just give it a couple listens for “Drinking Bleach” to win you over forever.
Overall, this is a wonderful showcase of growth for Nai Harvest. Their newfound zest for pop hooks and punk riffs is a welcome addition. Ben Thompson’s vocals are powerful yet know when to smooth out for the perfect, effective hook. Lew Currie’s work on the drum kit is impressive; he must be envisioning the faces of his enemies while beating away at the set.This may be one of the best Summer albums released in 2015. (Nicholas Senior)