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Live Review: The Harpoons channel early morning sensuality on 'Pressure'

14 March 2018 | 6:40 pm | Kyle Fensom

The Harpoons transform themselves into a classical soul band and tap into the slow-burning sensuality of early morning hours on 'Pressure'.

Melbourne quartet THE HARPOONS have unveiled the third taste of their upcoming sophomore album, Amaro. Where the band tapped into UK Garage stylings with previous single, ‘Reassurance’, and the hedonism of disco before that with ‘Do You Want My Love’, their latest, ‘Pressure’, sees them aiming for the slow-burning sensuality of the early morning. If those two singles were destined for the dancefloor, then ‘Pressure’ is a sequel of sorts, built for the afterglow of the club’s closing hours.

Lead singer BEC RIGBY touches on this, saying of the track: “Pressure drives our daily existence, in the air, the water, the wind, and the pressure that builds up between sexy people. Inspired by the deepest corners of sweaty but emptying dance floors, you know because your heart is pounding.”

Through her velveteen voice and aloof but commanding vocal performance, Rigby pays homage to classical soul singers such as SADE and DIANA ROSS – and when she reaches into her wrenching upper register towards the track’s end, the point where the homage starts and Rigby ends become virtually indistinguishable. Atop slowly morphing electric piano chords, and a smooth groove centred around syncopated drum hits, pulsating shakers, and layered, roaming marimba melodies, her voice soars: “The pressure is rising / Too much to bear / More than I can take / When will this storm break?

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Through melodic and rhythmic repetition, intricate layering that never stands still, and subtle variations in instrumentation throughout, the track develops its own intense but quiet pressure. In this, ‘Pressure’ represents the most sophisticated form of dance music, one that, across its six-minute run time, trades on the energy inherent to these fundamentals to build up and then slowly release a sense of bodily and emotional tension. The Harpoons draw everything they can out of these elements, and in doing so they augment everything about the track: when the lifting backing harmonies drop in and out of the chorus, you feel a rush of euphoria that might’ve been lost in a more brazenly constructed, overstated track.

The stylistic breadth that The Harpoons have traversed across the three singles released from Amaro so far is impressive in and of itself. But on ‘Pressure’ they take a slightly left turn by fully transforming themselves into a disco-tinged classical soul act. It’s this sort of chameleon-esque mastery of appropriation that speaks most to their maturation as a band, and has us excited to see which other directions they'll head in on their sophomore record.

Amaro is out April 13 via Caroline Australia – you can pre-order it here.

IMAGE: Becky Sui Zhen