You know those bands who are just so irrepressibly brilliant they make you swell with joy on every listen? Brighton’s Harker are one of those bands, with new EP A Lifetime Apart packing the emotion, passion and love of life into four tracks.

Musically, Harker are definitely a punk band, but there are definite splashes of indie and callbacks to frontman Mark Boniface’s former acoustic solo career. It means that, while these songs manage to rile up with the best of them (partly due to Boniface’s gritty yet wholly accessible vocals) but there’s a chime and roughness to the likes of Certain To Spill that fully works. For a British band they seem to gotten that sound of retrospective Americana pretty much nailed, as the likes of Nightmare Fuel and the quite wonderful opener 23 never fail to demonstrate.

And that’s where the criticisms may lie, but they’re not worth losing sleep over. Yes, the reference points of other bands come in thick and fast throughout, and yes, the spectrum of colours these songs are painted with very rarely varies, but if originality is something you’re after, this entire genre isn’t really worth looking at. For what they are, Harker represent a near-perfect cross section of how melodic heart-punk works, as well as the functionality and conviction needed to make it work. These are four songs from a band who clearly still have a lot to give but have a definite grasp on where they’re going.

And that’s why A Lifetime Apart is so great. It’s alternative music at its most perfectly imperfect, balancing rawness and affability without having to compromise. It’s Harker anchoring themselves down into a scene that may not be the best loved mainstream-wise, but has more than a few hidden gems tucked away inside it. On this evidence, Harker are unmistakably one of them.

8/10

For fans of: The Thermals, Dave Hause, The Gaslight Anthem
Words by Luke Nuttall

‘A Lifetime Apart’ by Harker is released on 7th December on No Panic Records.

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