Shocking Pinks’ self-titled album is out now on DFA. A re-mastered merging of Nick Harte’s – for he is Shocking Pinks – two previous albums, released on New Zealand label Flying Nun, this is a raw, energetic, emotional leap through seventeen short tracks. Other music reviewers have summarised the album as “something resembling electropop”, to which Nick politely replies “everybody has an opinion and sadly journalists seem to have a lazy habit of trying to pigeon-hole a new band as fast as they can.”
Location has never meant anything to me.
Maybe we should retract that ‘raw, energetic’ description. Too late now. It’s probably best to ask Nick how he defines the Shocking Pinks sound, and he opts for “dream-pop-miserablism”, which beats our attempt hands down.
Anyway, the real point amongst this argument over adjectives is that Nick’s album is worth a listen, and then another listen. Repeat this until the songs are firmly etched in your consciousness, because each track manages to feel timeless. But why are they so short? “Well, when I do ‘Smokescreen’ live, it usually ends up around the 28 minute mark, so I don’t think my tracks are particularly short, in fact in the past I have been told by another label I was involved with, that some of my tracks are “too long”...” Another matter for debate, then.
In ‘End Of The World’, the repetition of the lyrics “I gotta find a way to make it all make sense again”, combined with the dreamy synths means that at the end of it, everything kind of does make sense. In other tracks the vocals seem to be hidden, almost lost, within the music, yet despite (or because?) of this, Nick insists that his lyrics are hugely important. Songs explore themes of love and relationships, and the album is far more emotional DFA fare than labelmates Prinzhorn Dance School and LCD Soundsystem. Pleasingly, it doesn’t venture into romance territory, but stays on the right side of bittersweet to keep the listener on their toes.
Nick is most proud of ‘I Want U Back’ or ‘Blonde Haired Girl’ – “at the moment anyway, probably because I like my production on those tracks. They are easily the noisiest, rawest productions on the album and I find it harder to get a dirty sound that is just right than these cleanly produced tracks.” The “loud, dreamy, sensitive, violent” Shocking Pinks live show is performed as a trio, but when it comes to creating the music, Nick relishes having total control.
Brought up in sparsely populated South Island, New Zealand, Nick’s been involved in music from an early age, working with other local musicians, such as a stint drumming for The Brunettes. The relative isolation – when Clash first tries to call him he can’t hear a thing due to big thunder storm and rubbish phone connection – leads us to speculate the importance of location to his music. How different might it be if he’d grown up in, say, New York? “I don't know, I didn't grow up there. Location has never meant anything to me. I think my music would sound exactly the same.”
...journalists seem to have a lazy habit of trying to pigeon-hole a new band as fast as they can