Moving away from their lo-fi roots, Loved Ones return with Harness, a bolder more developed body of work than their debut. Their keenness to experiment is still present along with their mesmerising absorbing songwriting, but it's bigger in terms of scale. Inspired by their work for soundtracks, the band have expanded their sound with ethereal vocal overlays, a wide roaring sea of keys, crashing drums and electro work.
It's atmospheric from outset with the indie inspired Certain Things. Their songs certainly have an alt-pop feel, but they are so much more than that. Tracks like End Of An Error are too focused and involved to be straightforward commercial fodder. As they twist and turn from track to track their music calls to mind David Grey meets Athlete with a tinge of Kate Bush long the way. There's also snatches of Royworld (remember them?) in the way that they use electronica to bolster their soundscape.
Without Face combines Nik Glover's wistful falsetto with a vintage feel as the album shape shifts once more into Dagger. The haunting piano and string based instrumental pulls focus on the band's abilities to not only write varied musical arrangements but not get stuck in a rut of writing the same type of music. Monitors could almost be a Kate Bush or Bat For Lashes deep cut in the way that it layers up syncopated piano and frenzied vocal arrangements alongside unusual sounds and twists and shifts. One Big Kiss adds a heavier feel to the album and Sudden Dip brings the album to a satisfying close with another credit rolling instrumental.
Their new approach adds another dynamic to their layered songwriting, it's certainly more polished than previous tracks such as Paper Crown and High Pressure but feels a bit laid back in comparison and less edgy. Even so, Harness is still a beguiling and chilled out listen from a band who are not content to sit on their creative laurels; where their inspiration will take them next is anyone's guess, but you can bet their sound will morph once more into another intriguing musical vista.
Groupie Rating 3/5