Harlem Shakes

Technicolor Health

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Brooklyn's Harlem Shakes debut full-length album Technicolor Health fulfills all the promise of their 2007 EP Burning Birthdays and justifies all the buzz built by their live shows. Unfortunately, this happens on the album's first two tracks; the rest of the album is nice enough but pales in comparison. "Nothing But Change, Pt. 2" is a joyous, rollicking tune that brings in a horn section, handclaps, and a vocal chorus to bolster Lexy Benaim's fragile vocals. It sounds like an Elephant 6 campfire singalong with a nice Afro-beat influence. That influence is more pronounced on "Strictly Game" and the joyousness of the music and the yearning nature of Benaim's vocals sets up a very satisfying contrast. It might have been too much to ask to keep the energy level and the quality of songs this elevated for an entire record. The third song, "TFO," starts the inevitable decline as it's overly stately rhythm and bombastic arrangement conjures up images of Paul Simon collaborating with an overly earnest U.K. stadium rock band. The rest of the album is either a little too restrained and over-produced ("Niagara Falls," "Winter Water"), slightly over-cooked (the title track, "Unhurried Hearts (Passiac Pastoral)," or forgettable ("Radio Orlando"). Only "Natural Man" busts out of the post-Shins mold and gives the listener a welcome jolt of uncomplicated energy and breezy spirit. It's not enough to save things though. Maybe the record could have been improved by splitting up the opening duo of songs, maybe a less fussy production job could have done the trick. Hopefully, they can sort it out next time because any band with songs as good as the two that open Technicolor Health deserves a second chance.

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