The Brisbane-based ambient/alternative rock quintet harlequin. comprised of Stephen Nolan (vocals), Jack Hudson (bass), Jordan Miller (drums), Michal Zoltkowski (guitar) and Shaun Cummerford (guitar) recently released their debut EP entitled Univers Parallèle. Suffice it to say this is a notable, impressive debut that has high production value and clearly displays a band that writes accessible rock/pop tunes. The songs aren’t your run of the mill top 40 rock songs. They do a great job at finding a balance between catchy hooks and artistic deviations. The guitars are usually soaked in a copious amount of hall reverb (think Explosions In The Sky) while the drum and bass create a thick foundation.
Nolan’s vocals are dynamic, heartfelt and tailor made for this type of music. He has quite a range and sounds superb going into a higher octave range and falsetto. That being said his vocals don’t have to carry the songs being that the instrumental parts are engaging and usually hold down your attention completely on their own.
The EP opens with “Vie,” which revolves around a recording of a speech and lone piano that transitions into a melancholy section where Nolan sings, “My nightmares haunt me still.” It was a very effective intro that prepares you for the more intense, energy filled “The Fatalist.” “The Fatalist” is a very solid song but I actually preferred the more subtle, serene parts towards the middle of the song. Nolan’s vocals sounded their best here.
“The Realist” is an ambitious song and a clear highlight amongst the six songs. The band explores their potential and doesn't get lazy when it comes to structure. They ride a wave that changes in dynamics and keeps you engaged the whole way through. “The Nihilist” is mostly an instrumental song that indulges some of their post-rock tendencies while “The Apologist” has some exceptional drumming. They close with “Décès,” which is a relatively short instrumental piece.
A couple of moments here and there sounded a couple degrees away from a band like Thirty Seconds From Mars. Not a good thing in my book. That being said these moments were fleeting and rare. For the most part the songs here were highly enjoyable and there were a number of times I thought the band was exceptional. When it comes to their future the band is still riding a tight rope. Hopefully, they will lean towards the Local Natives/Explosions In The Sky vibe I was hearing while interjecting their own unique flavor.
Become A Fan
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook