Review: Nai Harvest, ‘Hairball’
Spring is the timeframe in which everything starts to feel renewed. The harsh disparity of winter has finally been shed, and life is starting to be seen again. The warmth of the sun on our skin always feels better than we remember, and shakes us out of the tumultuous mindset that months of sheer cold tend to leave us in. We begin to pine for the feeling of ease and lightheartedness, and music is always an incredible place to begin that journey. Music has always been there for me in times of transition, and I know that it always will be. In terms of the changing of the seasons, the style of music I’m consuming usually changes.
I wouldn’t say that I hop between genres, so much as stylistic differences within the genres that I’m already consuming. For instance, every season has it’s go to album in my library. Winter has The Hotelier’s ‘Home Like Noplace Is There’, Fall has Moose Blood’s ‘I’ll Keep You In Mind, From Time to Time’, Summer has I Can See Mountains’ ‘Life On A Houseboat’, and until recently, Spring had been left empty. So, I won’t go so far as to say that hearing Nai Harvest’s new album ‘Hairball’ when I did was fate, but it couldn’t have happened at a better time.
Last July, Nai Harvest released a split with Playlounge that featured a song called “Buttercups.” This wasn’t the first Nai Harvest song to hit my ears, but it was the one that made me want to start paying attention. The version of the song on the split sounds a little rougher than the album recording, but the effect is still very much there. This song just feels good and if the riffy backbone of the song doesn’t draw you in, hopefully the lyrics will. There’s just something about that chorus of “I just wanna know what it feels like/Take me to the place where it’s alright/Lend me a hand and watch me run/I don’t wanna feel like a lowlife/Stab me in the chest with your knife/Fill me up again with buttercups” that feels absolutely magical.
The vocals on this record are the best that I’ve heard from Nai Harvest, and that has played a huge role in why I keep coming back to this record. I keep describing their sound as “Oasis…but actually talented”, which has earned me just enough flack as it has agreeance. They both boast this nasally delivery that will either be hit or miss with a lot of listeners, but a lot of the songs on ‘Hairball’ could very easily win initial naysayers over. Album opener “Spin” is a great example. This is our first taste of the crisp production this record has, and then you’re hit with those vocals and everything just falls into place. If you’re not singing along on repeat listens, I feel for you, because you’re missing out on an incredible record.
There are songs on here that feel like bonafide radio hits. They feel like songs that you could turn all the way up, with the windows down, and drive aimlessly with friends while listening too. It’s a very specific feeling, but it exists on this album. The songs in question are “Melanie”, “Ocean of Madness”, and “Gimme Gimme.”
The first of the three is uptempo and feels chaotic at times as it begs for you to sing along. The chorus repeats the simple “You want it/You need it/You love it” that will be stuck in your head in a matter of seconds. Towards the middle of the song, we’ve got the stark and simple “Melanie, I want to be free” that practically begs for listeners to be yell/singing along too.
“Ocean of Madness” is the best song that Nai Harvest has ever written. The opening riff feels like a culmination of influences spanning the indie pop they now write, to the twinkly and well crafted stylings of modern emo. The verses feel bouncy and fun and lead you into the huge chorus of this song. It’s the easiest to sing along to, and with lines like “Don’t let me drown in an ocean of madness/I want to swim in an ocean of you” only help make the case for this band to explode. There’s no reason for this song to not hit airwaves. It’s huge, it’s catchy, and it’s written well enough that kids that love pop music would eat it up in a heartbeat.
“Gimme Gimme” is just fun. You don’t even need to pay attention to the rest of the lyrics, because once you realize that the “Gimme Gimme” is going to start almost every line of the song, you just surrender to the vibe. The song is carefree and fun. It feels just as full of life as those sunbeams that kiss your arms. ‘Hairball’ should see Nai Harvest being hailed as some of the best songwriters in their genre, because this album is just hit after hit after hit.
I’m still surprised at just how much I truly enjoy ‘Hairball.’ Nai Harvest wasn’t even a blip on the radar for me until this album cycle, and now, they’ve been welcomed into my seasonal rotation. This band is going to go places. Like I’ve already said, there’s no reason that at least one of these songs shouldn’t see the airwaves. Nai Harvest can write a mean pop song, and I hope the world is ready for them, because they show no signs of slowing down. 5/5