It’s rather impressive that, after multiple EPs and a steadily building presence, literally the only takeaway to come from The Hara’s music is that they want to be like Yungblud. It’s not hard to see why when it’s an easy cheat to fame without having to display much talent or do more than shamelessly pander, but therein lies the issue itself, in that one Yungblud is enough and most of the time, we don’t want him around either. To give The Hara a bit more credit, they do possess a shred more self-awareness that comes from wanting a credible reputation at the same time, but that isn’t something that good will alone can facilitate. There needs to be actual evidence to back it up, and We All Wear Black isn’t doing much to enforce that. It’s less a regression for them and more a lateral slide into terminally transparent mediocrity, where the title alone says everything it needs to about how hard The Hara are pushing on their ‘for the outcasts’ messaging, and how shallow that really is. Black Soul Ceremony and the title track are where that really comes to bear, perpetually angsty in the most aesthetic way imaginable, where all the right buzzwords and imagery are sprinkled in in such an overcompensatory way. There are no surprises in The Hara’s arsenal when it comes to writing; Josh Taylor feels as though he’s pushed on the outside by society on Fool & The Thief and Die In The City, while also wanting to share to anyone who feels similar that they’re not alone on Domino. It’s fine messaging in itself, but it’s so hard to see how anything deeper feeling from it can be gleaned when it’s as boilerplate as this. That’s not even mentioning how Taylor will play up the sneer and spittle in his northern accent on the title track, almost trying to shore up the parity between himself and Yungblud even further, and highlighting the worse qualities of both through it.
But here’s the thing—strip all of that back, and The Hara just aren’t anything special in the slightest. Their brands of garage-rock and alt-rock aren’t evolving that much; they feel stagnant in their modern permutations that flicker between shredded texture over tone, and a cleaner, more produced variant that seldom feel compatible with one another. Moreover, it’s just not all that interesting, where any flair comes from Taylor’s perceived histrionics that only pushes a style-over-substance narrative more. Case in point—Domino, where a blatant Sam Fender impression vocally is the only distinguishing factor against an instrumental canvas that’s so washed-out to sound ‘epic’ and ‘sweeping’, but misses the mark by an frankly impressive degree. Most of the time though, it’s at least free of anything too objectionable, but that therefore raises new questions about what The Hara hope to achieve when that’s the extent that they’re willing to go. Beyond the Yungblud worship, they’re a decidedly nondescript band, rarely in possession of production that’s all that impressive or noteworthy, and simply lacking much in the way of individualistic drive or motivation. It’s hardly surprising that they’ve only recorded EPs up to now; six songs of this is enough anyway, but they’re also the sort of diet version for whom stretching this across a full album would reveal far more cracks and wearing than they’d be able to paper over easily. More than any other reason, that’s why The Hara’s stagnation feels so prominent, and why, for as hard as they’re gunning for a fast-track to great heights, they probably won’t stay there for long. One more shift in the alternative landscape, and this will become an even more shoddy reinvention, or just fall apart entirely.
For fans of: Yungblud, Palaye Royale, NOISY
‘We All Wear Black’ by The Hara is released on 1st April on Scruff Of The Neck.
Words by Luke Nuttall