‘Honeymoon Suite’ is the latest full-length offering from UK multi-instrumentalist Harkin. Recorded amongst the COVID lockdowns in a one-bedroom flat, Harkin will release her album on her Hand Mirror label, which she founded with her wife, Kate Leah Hewett, in 2019.
Going into this album I had not heard a single note of Harkin’s musical offerings, yet already the title – named after a former home in New York – and album art offer an intriguing insight into what the album will deliver
The opening track, ‘Body Clock’, instantly delivers a breadth of atmosphere before the first lyrics are even uttered. The enticing nature of the vocal delivery, “come on, come on” does nothing but further entice the listener’s attention. ‘Body Clock’ is a strong start to the album and truly begins to highlight the ‘vulnerable rabbit hole’ in which Harkin states to have gathered her artistic direction from for this LP.
‘A New Day’ and ‘Here Again’ follow on strongly to set the album up in good stead. The use of synthesisers must be noted as being crucial to the fundamental structure of this record, but also the polishing perfections that are omniscient throughout the tracks. The melodic background vocals, and strong lyrical delivery in ‘Here Again’ is superb.
Track four features the slightly lower tempo ‘Matchless Lighting’. The song does remove itself from the previous melodic successes of the first three tracks – yet the left-field, roaring synth bass makes up for this, along with its almost trainlike synthesis.
‘The Streets of Leeds’, ‘Mt. Merino’ and ‘Talk of the Town’ have a beautiful cold wave aspect to them with how the drum machines break through the track. Complementing this is a forward-facing, tempo-catching riff which is unique to each of these tracks. At the halfway point of this record, there is certainly a strong case to be made on just how sensational Harkin has paved her way to be.
‘To Make Her Smile’ is, in my opinion, the most out-there track on the album, with many different elements crashing together with a pummelling hi-hat to create a blend of genres and themes. ‘Listening Out’ follows this – and it appears there is a scent of Sinead O’Brien present (though I am not sure if this is intentional), which is always totally welcome.
A special mention must go to the epic, final track on the album – ‘Driving Down a Flight of Stairs’ starts small and builds its way up into being a beautiful piece of atmospheric, instrumental art that clocks in at just under eleven and a half minutes. Despite having no lyrics, the track is the perfect end to the album as what has turned out to be a sensational record slowly fades away with a radio crackle and then silence.
Honeymoon Suite by Harkin is out now via Hand Mirror Records.