CD Review: Harlem Shakes, Technicolor Health

Carrie Ingraham

If you haven’t yet discovered the unbearable catchiness that is the Harlem Shakes, their debut album, “Technicolor Health,” will undoubtedly win you over. Be it the sunny clanging of Todd Goldstein’s guitar, lead singer Lexy Benaim’s witty lyrics, or the harmony-filled vocals, somehow the album’s scattered directions come together quite naturally at an all-too-appealing junction.

Album opener “Nothing But Change, Pt. 2” sets off the humble optimism which drives the disc, when Benaim wails, “I know I’m just a singer/but I feel it in my fingers/there are changes coming soon.” It’s difficult to distinguish whether these “changes” are referring to their music scene in general, or to just their album, especially when both are just as rapidly evolving. Simply put, the album is a mesh of Goldstein’s hopeful riffs and pop-based harmonies dancing with wordplay and the occasional “doo-doo” of backup vocals. Throw in a fusion of Western/folksy vibes, (especially on “Niagra Falls” and “Natural Man”), and a bit of experimentation with electronica, (as on the mellower “TFO” and “Winter Weather”), and the result is pure indie-pop bliss in its most organic form.

Although just recently gaining ground on the indie-pop scene, the New York City-based quintet already has an impressive track record. Their 2007 EP, “Burning Birthdays,” was well received by their growing fan base, and they recently played eight shows at this year’s South by Southwest festival. After opening for some of the biggest “indie-pop” names, (including Vampire Weekend, Arctic Monkeys and Deerhoof), the Harlem Shakes are quickly becoming a headliner of their own. But despite their growth in the limelight, it seems they are evolving naturally, through pure musical qualities based on pure musical talent. In the end, it’s no wonder they named this album “Technicolor Health” – An apple a day keeps the doctor away? Nope – just listen to the Harlem Shakes.