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Album Review: Harijan – Self Titled
Harijan - TNSrecords
Harijan have been around for a while. Back in the opening few years of the century they had a well deserved reputation for bringing a raucous, good time party atmosphere to their gigs with their heavy, ska-punk, foot stomping songs that were loaded with hints of reggae, dub and metal guitars. After a long absence this Friday sees the release of their self-titled debut long player and WOW! at the end of what for many has been the worst year they can remember do we need tunes like these. Those of a certain age should cast their mind back to the emergence of the ‘Coventry sound’ in ‘79/’80. Two tone, ska. Tunes rich with inputs from trombones, trumpets, saxaphones. Guitars, bass and drumbeats that implored you to get up and have a good time. But listen to the lyrics and there was a deep social conscience that fought against racism, injustices and Thatcher’s Britain.
Leap forward to the present day. Have we actually moved on that much? The 13 songs on this album bring those sounds and attitudes bang up to date with added anger, furious guitars, booming basslines. Add in the brass, there’s trumpets, trombones and sax, and it’s a glorious package of huge catchy hooks. Get past the urge to dance, focus on the lyrics and there’s some serious commentary on poverty, mental health, inequalities and class struggles. The danger with albums labelled ‘ska-punk’ is that you end up listening to 13 songs that vary little in their sound. Not the case here. Opener ‘Curriculum Vitae’ starts with an explosive sound that could start any heavy rock/hardcore punk sound before quickly bringing in that perfect ska sound that then melts into a pure rock chorus. “Light up. We’ll hide all the way into this high. Drink up. Or face sober reality.” And later, “Well this is the life lets type up our CV.”
Sublime, bass heavy reggae opens ‘Divide and Rule’ and it’s lyrics covering corruption, the suppression of youth and the way those in power pitch people against each other. A daily existence dependent on weed (‘Paranoid’), survival on a pitiful wage in a job that obliterates self-dignity (‘Box Packer’). Lyrically this album is no easy listen. Nor should it be. It’s not good enough to pretend that badge wearing, wristbands and the occasional charity donation brought on by a middle-class conscience pricked by guilt are good enough (‘Airhead’). What it does is spit out the truth about what is going on all around us. A wake-up call that screams just how it is. What people need to do is face up to the facts.
At the end of 2020 Harijan’s debut is just what we need. Summing up societies ills perfectly it’s beats, melodies, raw, catchy tunes still lift you to a better place and a wild, party atmosphere. Even if this is socially distanced and in your own small bubble. Hopefully we’ll get a chance to see Harijan play these songs live in the not too distant future. Harijan’s self-titled debut album, available on limited edition double vinyl and cd, can be pre-ordered from TNSrecords and digitally via Bandcamp.