A duo forged somewhere between Barrow and Norway via Liverpool, Her’s are a band that seem to exist in a parallel dimension. They live in a world that is nearly, but not quite, the same as ours. Their eccentric, off-kilter songs have been catching the eye for a few years now, and at last a debut album that captures all of their fun and magic has arrived. Buckle up and accept the invitation.
The album begins gently with an intro so Parisienne, you can almost smell the Gauloises and see the sepia-tinged cityscape. ‘Harvey’, a tribute to the 1950s film starring James Stewart, takes off with a catchy, jaunty melody that wouldn’t go amiss in a rom-com movie montage scene. The fine balance between that love of upbeat melody, and Stephen Fitzpatrick’s rasping vocals is essentially what drives Invitation To Her’s along. There is definitely a cinematic feel to much of the music itself, with ‘Mannie’s Smile’ inviting more comparisons – this time with a John Hughes soundtrack. Though it’s unclear whether any of Hughes’ movies ever revolved around the death of a beloved pet cat (“And the cats don’t know which way to turn, their captain is now gone/ Has he taken a nap in the dirt, I bet they buried him under the lawn”), it is that delicious turn of humour that stands Her’s out from the crowd.
Fitzpatrick and his musical partner Audun Laading certainly know their way around an ear worm, though if you strip away all of those eccentricities you are still left with exquisite pop nuggets like ‘If You Know What’s Right’ and the gorgeous ‘Carry The Doubt’. They manage to sneak in some thoughtful topics in a Trojan style too, with the bass-slaptastic ‘Low Beam’ carrying a warning against toxic masculinity within its funky licks. At times, it does run the risk of burying the meaning too deeply under its production, but it is nothing that repeated listens do not reveal.
Throughout their debut, Her’s perform handbrake turns and sharp detours down alleyways of their own making. ‘Breathing Easy’ feels like waking from a dream, fittingly so for a song that seems to be about recovery from depression. It is hypnotic, with faint shades of Prince at its crescendo as Fitzpatrick’s voice soars from the gutters into the stars. ‘Blue Lips’ channels Roy Orbison, again transcending and shifting into something else altogether. These beautiful tempo and mood shifts resonate throughout all of Invitation To Her’s, making for one of the best dream-pop albums of the last couple of years. There is so much ingenuity, so many little tiny flourishes hidden within that come to the fore over time, that it becomes an album to dig deep inside of in search of hidden treasures. Like a hazy dream that slips just out of your grasp upon waking, it is a world you will immediately seek to return to.