Nai Harvest don't waste much time getting down to business on their second album, Hairball. The first track, "Spin," shows that guitarist/vocalist Ben Thompson and drummer Lew Currie have done a couple of things this time: they increased the power of their squalling sound and learned a thing or two about writing songs. Their previous efforts were energetic, loose, and scrappy emo pop that by the duo's own admission were more like parts of songs jammed together than tunes that had an organic flow. Hairball is filled with songs with huge choruses and sharp hooks; they're the kind of songs you'll want to play over and over because they don't get old. Credit some of that staying power to the ferocious energy the guys bring to their playing. Currie in particular sounds like he probably needed an IV drip of electrolytes after every session. Thompson brings it just as hard, pummeling his guitar and shredding his vocal cords when he really gets worked up, like on the caterwauling "Sick on My Heart." Lots of bands can make noise, though; what's good about Hairball is that Nai Harvest show some restraint now and then. Subtle changes in dynamics (like on the super-catchy chorus of "All the Time"), in tempo (the shimmering dream pop ballad "Ocean of Madness"), and in the sound of the guitars (the smoothly arranged "Drinking Bleach") give the record dimension and make it a more complete and satisfying listening experience. The hard-driving, barely-holding-on-to-the-wheel songs are the main draw here, though, and the band delivers so many of them it's hard not to be breathless by the end of the album. When you get there and look back, it's clear that what just happened was the coming-out party for one of the most exciting bands around in the mid-2010s, one that combines intensity with subtlety while delivering goosebumps with nearly every song.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra