Album Review: Indie Pop-Rockers Harlow Offer Unique Storytelling Perspectives On New EP ‘Other Lives, Told’

Since their formation in the thick of strange times in the fall of 2020, Harlow has crafted a special sound as a genre-bending indie band that makes music for an array of listeners.

Pioneered by Samuel Ketcham (lead vocals, guitar), Hannah Morton (vocal harmonies, lead vocals, violin), Jonny Hall (lead guitar), Julia Kneen (drums), and Robbie Weisshaar (bass), the quintet has been hard at work churning away on their latest collection of songs with the help of producer Evan Middlesworth.

The Minnesota band’s new EP, Other Lives, Told which dropped October 7this an accumulation of impactful stories experienced by friends, family, and characters that the band members have endured over the course of their lives. By exploring lives outside of their own, the band looks to give the project an imaginative and thought-provoking theme. 

As one of the lead singles and the opener to the 6-track EP, “Palo Alto” is a catchy, melancholic tune that incorporates delicate violin melodies with traditional contemporary rock stylings. The song tells a nostalgic story about a past relationship and how his life was shaped differently back then. The piece is a great example of how easy-going and soothing Harlow’s musical style is, and how consumable it is.

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“Pathetic at the Zoo” is a delicate piano-driven ballad about the fight for redemption in a past relationship that takes place at a depressing zoo date. While a unique setting and memorable song title, the song is laden with emotional lyricism and moody stringed instrumentation accompanied by a guitar lead that gives the tune its gloomy groove. 

Towards the middle of the EP, “Isabel,” is a conversational piece about trying to communicate with someone who seems out of reach. The song includes intricate harmonies and whimsical plucked melodies that underlay a thoughtful guitar solo in the bridge of the song. While one of the mellower tunes on the project, the catchy choruses and layers of meaning behind every note leave the listener entranced by the songwriting. 

“Tired World, Wide Awake” features the band’s signature rich and entrancing harmonies. This track leans more into the contemporary pop side of Harlow’s creations, utilizing synths and piano to support the pristinely-harmonized vocals. The songs come off as cinematic, as it tells stories of being stuck in a stand-still place when everything else has changed around you.  

Incorporating both acoustic sounds as well as eerie synths, “Sit in the Garden,” also features notable vocals in this ominous song. The tune plays into the other-worldly and romantic lyricism with a gloomy bass line and hypnotizing guitar hook. 

To close out the project, “So Loved.” features a country-esque guitar lead and vocal back-and-forth that mimics a conversation between a distressed duo. The chorus is an edgy climax for the EP that features musical stylings popular in folk and indie rock. The tune leaves the listener swaying to the old-school bass and melancholic songwriting, wrapping up the project with a bow. 

Harlow’s versatility when it comes to genre-mixing whether it’s folk with country undertones, or contemporary rock with pop melodies, is a huge reason why they have the ability to attract audiences of different tastes. 

Look for this group playing around their home state of Minnesota, and dive into their previous EP, Playing Dove, for more of their unique one-of-a-kind sound.

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