Harper Blynn are the nice guys. They’re going to pour their hearts out, just not all at once. On their debut Loneliest Generation and subsequent self-titled EP it seemed like they might have been holding a little back. The tradeoff was a super sweet, infectious libation. Great stuff. But all nice guys have their breaking point. Busy Hands feels like that breaking point for Harper Blynn. They are sharing the things the nice guys of the world have been keeping to themselves.
Lovely Thing is a great example of how the band is pushing themselves melodically. There is still a hint of the sweetness, but just as the lyrics shift from cute and happy to honest and real, so does the melody. Lines like, “What do you say to me when you know the truth now?”, bring up the feeling of something falling apart. And fall apart they do; Lovely Thing is what it’s like to break up with someone when the heart is worn on the sleeve.
Harper Blynn’s Dandelion Head
Sucker is an unapologetic plea for the freedom to love and be loved, even in spite of warnings from everyone else. There is still some doubt though – comparing lines like, “What’s the use to preach to me what they think is true?” to, “But it’s never free, so don’t listen to me,” show a hesitance to jump fully on board with their own war cry. Even the very fact that J Blynn uses the word “Sucker”, essentially a gullible fool, reveals the conflict of the head and the heart.
Busy Hands, Busy Hearts, the title track of the album, feels most like the earlier releases; the style is a little more complex, but they have managed to keep the catchy quality of songs like Centrifugal Motion and 25 Years intact. Both J Blynn and Pete Harper, the two main writers for the group, have known from the beginning the band’s sound would slowly transform. Many of the original songs were Pete and J songs, songs the two of them played before they formed Harper Blynn, which added bassist Whynot Jansfield and drummer Sarab Singh to the creative mix. As a result, newer songs incorporate influences from both of them as well.
Dandelion Head is a beautiful yet surprisingly rhythm-heavy song of loss and the false hope of daydreams. It’s a fairly good guess that ‘Dandelion Head’ is probably Blynn, with his halo of blonde hair. But what does, “She called me a dandelion head after all that was said,” refer to? Is he thinking back to the time that he lost her, or was it something she said in a dream?
All of these songs have been tested out while touring, something at which Harper Blynn are experts, with even a residency in LA recently under their belts. Touring also provides a chance to pick up new nuances to the music, especially when the band frequently backs up such varied touring buddies as The Damnwells, Elizabeth and the Catapult, David Mead, and currently Ingrid Michaelson. No doubt as Harper Blynn continues to grow and expand so will their audience. For those listeners who may have written off these boys as too melodic, or who weren’t into ‘man harmonies’ (as the boys J and Blynn frequently refer to their vocals, which could hold court with Simon and Garfunkel’s), give Busy Hands a listen. After all, the band is letting you download the entire album for free, here. For those who loved everything about Loneliest Generation, not to worry, hooks are plentiful, synths twinkle, and there are new sing-a-longs waiting to happen.
Written by Nicole Banister | OurVinyl Contributor
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Below is a video of Harper Blynn playing Sucker and Busy Hands, Empty Hearts at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta, GA