Three albums in and Harry Howard and the NDE have hit a creative peak.
The new one, entitled “Sleepless Girls”, is the best yet from a band that has progressively improved since the debut eponymous release in 2012. With Dave Graney and Clare Moore as the tighter than tight rhythm section, and Edwina Preston’s signature keyboard, plus Harry’s crunching guitar and laconic garage rock snarl, you have the perfect post-punk sound .
Opening with the memorable “The Only One”, which hits you between the eyes like a particularly powerful musical cocktail, the stage is set for an eleven song collection full of hooks, riffs, and rhythms that should get you up and shimmying across the dance-floor with frug like intensity.
The pressure is relentless, the sound soars ,and the riffs roll across the soundscape. The repetitious “Votes for Women”, for example, is an exercise in pure garage wall of sound. Preston’s clever use of tones is a perfect counterpoint to Howard’s bluesy riffs and expressive vocal style, a sort of yin and yang relationship, with the bitter sweet keyboard sounds marrying with the scabrous guitar attack. Harry’s wordplay has a mystical feel evoking dark corners and illicit memories and experiences.
The majestic “Sleepless Girls” allows a brief respite from the garage rock rollin’ and tumblin’, however the peace is soon shattered by the glorious “Grim Disposition”, which emerges from a dirty riff, with such swagger that this listener was left breathless, and the speedy “She Doesn’t Like It”, which features a dual vocal attack from Edwina and Harry.
There’s usually a slow one on an NDE album, notably the exceptional “History Is Linear” on the debut album. This album’s offering is the stately “25 Cent Paperback” which ends an excellent release on a memorable high.
Harry Howard toured and wrote with the Birthday Party, Crime & the City Solution and These Immortal Souls, he has hit a career high with the three NDE albums released to date.
Some bands try to do this type of thing and fail miserably, Harry Howard and the NDE have cracked the garage-punk code and moved it on to be fresh and modern, and it can be argued they are one the best bands around delivering of this type of sound.