Harriet - American Appetite

Review by Dom Vigil

It’s easy to just close your eyes and get lost in Harriet’s new album, American Appetite. With a very classy and polished sound, that at times comes off as very mellow and atmospheric and at others, can come off as playful and fun, American Appetite is a well rounded and very easy to listen to release.

Setting the mood for the entire album is the title track, which comes right at the beginning. The piano and vocals are bound to hook listeners right away with their clarity and polished sound, and when the full band eventually comes in, the song just gets even more beautiful. With each added effect and instrument, “American Appetite” just seems to grow, and the amount of times the song changes pace and how much it progresses in just under four minutes is remarkable. The high point of the opening track is definitely the final third of it, though, where everything speeds up and becomes rather hectic before the end.

“Ten Steps” has that same polished sound of  “American Appetite,” but is significantly more poppy and catchy than the opening track - a perfect transition that really shows you what Harriet are capable of. The falsetto vocals in “Ten Steps” are easily the song’s high point, and you can clearly hear the longing in this track, both in the vocal work and in the soft instrumentals. Following “Ten Steps” is another strong track, “Bring Me When You Go.” The transition between the two is practically seamless, and much like “Ten Steps,” this song is not only soothing and beautiful, but poppy and catchy as well. There’s also an airy, atmospheric quality about “Bring Me When You Go” that is rather soothing and relaxing.

Where the first three songs of American Appetite tend to be a little mellow and atmospheric, “Irish Margaritas” comes along and picks up the pace, with instrumentals that almost sound like a video game. The synth parts in this song are incredible, and the rest of the song is a lot more upbeat than the first three tracks. While the vocals are still definitely a high point, simplistic instrumentals are swapped for crazy synth parts, fun guitar work and dancy drums, making it stand out from the back. “Inheritance” follows “Irish Margaritas,” and picks up the pace quite a bit as well, with a very poppy, synth heavy sound.

Though the first half of American Appetite is very captivating, from the first few stunning tracks to more standout and upbeat songs like “Irish Margaritas” and “Inheritance,” it seems to lose a little bit of momentum in the middle. Mellow instrumentals and soothing vocals make it very easy to get lost in the middle of the album, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does lack a little bit of the diversity that sets the first half of the album apart. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t some strong moments in these songs. “I’m Trying” is captivating despite its sleepy and mellow tone because of its guitar work, which is a strong driving force of the song.

Thankfully, Harriet end American Appetite on a high note, though. “This Time I Was Right” is groovy, funky and weird, standing out from the sleepy songs that come before it. Not only is the bass heavy sound a nice change of pace, but the effect on the vocals is perfect for the mood of the song. The following ballad, “Bent” takes on a more folky tone, which also stands out from the pack. The raw sound on this track can’t be found on any other song on American Appetite. And then, there’s “Richer,” which is the heartbreaking second to last song. This track holds some of the more relatable lyricism on American Appetite, especially the bittersweet line, “I know that it hurts/But I’m not your friend.” As a whole, American Appetite is not only stunning, but it has a timeless sound that is unlike anything that anything that has crossed my path lately. Even despite the sleepy middle of the album, American Appetite is a captivating and diverse listen.

Rating: 4/5

Listen to "Bring Me When You Go"

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