Those three words are what keep reoccurring in my mind as I listen to The Astral We by Cleveland’s Harvey Pekar.
The lyrical content in this album is beyond deep. It makes you think and react based on how you interpret it. There is no tongue in cheek rhyming, stolen ideals, or laziness in these songs.
With that said, it’s nice to hear Harvey Pekar once again. Spite a lineup change since the last album, OG members Elliot Frank (guitar), Nick Krastas (vocals), and Nick Schmitt (bass) joined forces with Nate Kelly (drums) and Tyler Sickels (guitar) to create a more solid band than ever. Without worrying about reinventing their sound, Harvey Pekar continued full force where they left off on their debut release back in 2013.
“Huff Joules” started off the album strong with the band as a whole not holding back at all. “The Heritable Self” was a true hardcore romper with plenty of group singalong opportunities as Krastas screamed his thoughts out. Loved this track.
“Ferrous Kin” was one of the songs where I just felt like Krastas was delivering a spoken-word of sorts backed by heavy riffs and fast-paced drumming. The lyrics, “frail is the life trivialized by that of artifacts” really stuck to me for some reason.
“Truisms of Infinite Regress” caught my attention in more ways than one. The track, which seeming talked about conformity and a sense of false logic, sped up midway making for quite a powerful statement and throw down. This track begged to be heard over and over by this listener.
I should also mention how much I found myself enjoying “Crystal Starlings”. The breakdown about half way though and change up kept the track interesting, the group vocals towards the end make the song enjoyable.
Everyone has their own definition of hardcore music. Harvey Pekar’s is more aligned with the genre I recall from the 90s and early 2000s, at least the hardcore I enjoyed the most mixed with a punk feel and beyond intelligent lyrics. Perhaps a little more melodic than some might like, The Astral We impressed the hell out of me and has been fueling my ears daily since it’s release a few weeks back.
Looking past the band’s sound, Harvey Pekar consists of some of the most down-to-earth guys I have had the pleasure of knowing over the years. I’ve seen them play in bars, inside a warehouse, and even on a church stage on a Sunday morning over the years and they always put on the best show and always are down for a hang afterwards.
Here I am sounding biased now. I am just calling it as I hear it. Listen for yourself and make your own determination.
Snag a copy of The Astral We over at Little Heart Records.