BOY HARSHER - Lesser Man (EP) - 2018 | ALBUM REVIEW
Updated: Dec 24, 2020
Label: Nude Club
By Andrea Coloma
The band Boy Harsher consists of vocalist Jae Matthews and digital/synth accompanist Augustus Muller. They originated in 2013 in Georgia. Lesser Man (2018) is a time machine to gothic music back in the ’80s. Although goth music originated back in the ’60s, the music has evolved over time by creating subgenres such as minimal wave, darkwave, and coldwave. This is what Boy Harsher captures, all these genres into one while maintaining a contemporary feel of today’s goth music. Boy Harsher’s take on goth is sensual and mysterious. Jae’s beautiful vocals echo obscurity and there’s quite a distinctness. Sometimes she makes strange sounds and even whispers. I am a visual person, so I can’t help but hear this album in a physical way. I hear this album in a movable and emotional sense. Although a minimal use of instruments is used, I can’t help to hear more than that. You will definitely find a relation to coldwave and darkwave since each song is slightly different. Jae truly uses her voices in different manners that complement the beat of every song.
I would never say psychedelic rock singer Grace Slick’s style of singing is goth, but I can understand the connection with her voice with other goth singers, such as Siouxie and of course, Jae Matthews. Of course, there are goth singers that sing in high soprano, but personally, I believe alto vocals capture the true essence of goth. I can also comprehend how goth started in the ’60s while psychedelic was around. This is what goth artists borrowed. Isn’t this what music is about, borrowing genres while creating a new type genre that no one has listened to before? We find familiarity between these two for example. Otherwise, most of us wouldn’t have an eclectic taste in music, am I right?
Going back to the album, the first song I’ve heard from Boy Harsher was “Pain.” I was instantly hooked since this is what I usually like to listen to. I had a quick discerning of this song. I instantly thought it was a sensual song. The lyrics to every song, especially “Pain” is also very minimal. It focuses mostly on the chorus while narrating a “love” dark story that goes back to the title of the album Lesser Man. Unlike the song “Pain”, “Modulation” is a great example of how their music represents industrial elements. Toward the end of the song, you can hear these mechanical sounds that you would hear or dance to at an industrial club.
Revisiting songs such as “Pain,” The Soft Moon remix is more upbeat and industrial, so to my understanding, they also experiment with industrial music, which gives a great turn to the original version. You have an immense appreciation since music can be sculpted in different manners rather than have one single version. They reflect a similar style to bands such as industrial bands like Leather Strip and Field Cult, putting the vocals aside of course.
Since I am an artist, I can’t help but appreciate the album cover. You have a better sense of who they are by it. The bold red reflects the intensity of their music while maintaining to be vague by depicting a blurred image of a woman appearing to be screaming. Lastly, “Lesser Man” is composed of mesmerizing vocals with cold, obscure and upbeat beats that take you back to goth music at its prime. The sounds are hidden in the shadows, where they simply belong. It wouldn’t be Boy Harsher if they didn’t embrace the beauty of darkness.