Album Review: Harts – Smoke Fire Hope Desire

Shred heaven.

Melbourne’s multi-instrumentalist and producer Harts has been on everyone’s radar since he dropped debut album Daydreamer back in 2014, and it’s not hard to see why.

The young musician has been compared to the late and legendary Prince so regularly that the music icon decided to make Harts his protégé. The associations don’t just end there however – the one-man music making machine is consistently placed in the company of Jimi Hendrix and Lenny Kravitz.

Harts’ sophomore album Smoke Fire Hope Desire arrives two years after the release of his first and is a sure-fire hit – astonishing considering the entire thing was recorded and self-produced from his bedroom studio.

The 14-track compilation is brimming with 60’s psychedelic soul and indie rock inspirations of more recent times. Lo-fi vocals, distortion pedals and an impressive brass band can be heard throughout the LP, but it’s the guitar prowess which makes it a unique Darren Harts production.

The record launches at an ingeniously slow pace with pedal-heavy, reverberated track Smoke, which effortlessly melds into the darker, angrier bluesy sounds of Fear In Me where listeners are treated to some light rapping from the man himself.

We’re exposed to our first upsurge of sound in All Rise – its boisterous and staccato rhythm makes it one of the more enjoyable tracks on the album. This pulsing cadence is repeated frequently in other songs like Harts’ first two lead singles Power and Peculiar, but it doesn’t feel pedestrian because each and every piece manages to stand on its own.

When listeners aren’t being drawn in by epic shredding sessions, songs like Ain’t Too Far Gone serve to show a subdued, softer side. As the longest track on the LP the song eventually progresses into the loud production we’ve come to expect from the singer-songwriter, but makes for a nice change of pace.

Earnestly crafted lyrics are plentiful throughout the record, found predominantly in the three interludes Wisdom, Fire and Desire. Harts struggles to conceptualise fundamental emotions and everything in between – frequently posing questions to us in hope that the audience has the answers he seeks.

Smoke Fire Hope Desire with its barely controlled shreds and soaring vocals is jam-packed with highlights, each song complementing the next maintaining that same level of energy, emotion and soul to ultimately create a well balanced record. Harts has without doubt honed in on his individuality quite early on in his career and has established himself as an artist worthy of being heard.


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