The Harvey Girls are a married duo who formed about seven years ago in Lawrence, KS. Their music favors the experimental, which is no surprise. You’d have to think that living in Lawrence, KS is conducive to abstract, boundary pushing art, because there is not much else to do and let’s face it, Kansas is really flat. Well, they recently moved to Portland, Oregon and signed with Circle Into Square. In this year alone, they’ve had two releases: Prisoners of Candy Island EP, and the full-length, I’ve Been Watching A Lot of Horror Movies Lately. The latter being my first exposure to the band.
As I mentioned earlier, the Harvey Girls are experimental in their approach. Using intricate layering of looped samples, the tracks on I’ve Been Watching… resonate with sonic depth and complexity, but do not become exercises in mental masturbation. Rather, their sound is sometimes weird, sometimes macabre, sometimes cool, indie pop. The opener, The Body Without Any Eyes, is an excellent introduction to the Harvey Girls with horses trotting, handclaps and layers of instrumentation. Tracks like A Letter to Bees, Monster, and Only Apparitions On The Lawn best demonstrate their eccentric pop chops. An instrumental (vocals are not lyrical but part of the sound), Smile Like Gwynplaine, is hypnotic. While listening to Gwynplaine, I could not believe how it drew me into it. I shut out everything around me, which is a little dangerous when you’re running. Since purchasing this album two weeks ago, I find myself coming back to it and it gets better every time.
The Harvey Girls website has many of their early recordings available for donation or free download. Circle Into Square has also made the Prisoners of Candy Island EP available if you provide an e-mail address. While the duo intimate on MySpace that Candy Island is a collection of throw away songs, it, along with their back catalog are well worth examining.