Shocking Pinks Shocking Pinks

DFA’s first release outside of the electronic/post-punk fold finds itself in an ironic position for both band and label. Shocking Pinks was once exactly the sort of death disco act the label frequently courted, yet a change in personnel and sound has found the project of New Zealand’s Nick Harte standing out even more. A former drummer for the Brunettes, Harte’s Shocking Pinks is a one-man operation where the songwriter surrounds himself with a roomful of gear (documented in the sleeve) and creates a basement dreamland of lo-fi lullabies and distorto pop. This self-titled affair extracts songs from two albums — Mathematical Warfare and Infinity Land — previously released on legendary New Zealand indie label Flying Nun. However, it never suffers incoherence from this merger. Harte’s loneliness in making the music is perfectly realised with lyrical heartache such as "I told a lie, I made you cry, for this I know I’ll surely die” ("Emily”) or "Victims,” which equates a young girl’s isolation to that of a lone crawling insect. Although nothing can match the devastating intimacy flowing through the veins of "You Can Make Me Feel Bad,” his Arthur Russell cover. All of the meaningful words are given credence by the blissful melodies and undercoated production. Pop songwriting of this class often veers towards studio glossovers but the under-produced condition of his songs benefit from the rough takes. Perhaps the most surprising element of Shocking Pinks is Harte’s gift for the skins. Songs like "Blonde Haired Girl” and "Cutout” find the Kiwi bashing away at crystal meth-fuelled speeds, not unlike Colm O’Ciosoig on My Bloody Valentine’s early Creation EPs, which were unquestionably an influence on this entire record. (DFA/Astralwerks)