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HARPA - Growing Pains - EP REVIEW


Growing Pains

Nottingham, United Kingdom

‘Growing Pains’ is the latest release and debut EP from pop/rock artist, Harpa. It's a blend of contemporary pop tones using hard rock sounds, it pulls from the 00s in its construction and attitude but it gives it a twist. The vocals can be harsh to drive home a lyric but they are dutifully melodic and mellow most of the time, jumping high to hit notes that finalise a phrase or dipping low for texture. The songs feel abundant, filled to the brim with rock stylings and frills, they dance over lines gracefully in one track only to speed over them leaving tyre marks in the next. ‘Growing Pains’ speaks to the teenager in all of us from a new perspective. It aims to bring the strife and conflict that teens go through into the light of adulthood. It knows that if we look back, we can all remember feeling this way. In that shift of perspective, Harpa has pushed this EP from a pretty good rock record to a damn fine musical work.

The EP is short and I was left wanting more! It feels linear, the story progresses as we go and I wanted to know the next step, where do we go from here and what could that sound like? With the vocal skill of Harpa carrying the tracks out across the EP, I’m sure it won’t be long until I get my answer in the form of another set of ground-shaking songs. Turning back to the present, however, ‘Growing Pains’ begins with ‘Hollow’, a song that starts quiet, only to grow into the speaker-busting force that Harpa will be known for. An acoustic guitar is plucked in a satisfying pattern, piano joins the party, pulling together the vocal harmony that grows as the song goes on. Suddenly, drums. They crash through the serenity and bring forth a rain of guitar and bass. It's heavy, thick and it feels like the 90s. It keeps the vibe but chugs along to the chorus which is heightened by the high-set vocals.

‘Yours’ is to follow. Strings and piano open it up. Percussion feels modern and it explodes into a Muse-style crescendo of sound. The melody climbs with the drums - when it crashes down the vocals are there to catch it and keep the song going. The vocal is jazzy in its timing, its stopping-starting is hypnotic, it allows for the instrumental to clash and blow up against great walls of sound in the back without feeling as if the lyrics will be drowned out. Following on from this massive rock epic is ‘Hurts to Love You’ - a true contrast and for me the best song on the EP. A harpsichord plays us in and guitars, piano and synth pads join the instrumental. The vocals lay out a melody that is infinitely catchy and keeps the ball rolling into the layering verses that seem to expand endlessly into the 90s rock stratosphere. Harpa shows us her range as the vox dip down low, twist, then shoot up high. It is a great track that showcases everything that Harpa can do and would be my pick for the single.

The title track, ‘Growing Pains’ rounds out the EP. It's solemn, calling back to those awkward and saddening years of desperation that many of us faced as teens. When you feel up against the world for no understandable reason, you feel alone. Harpa has created, in ‘Growing Pains’, an anthem for the youth of today. They can wear this sound with pride as they march on as individuals and grab life by the shirt throwing it out of their way, to stride toward their dreams. The EP is heartfelt, honest and showcases real musical passion. Can't wait for the next one.

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