'Baby Blue' by Harlequin Gold, album review by Leskie Chu.


Harlequin Gold

Baby Blue

Over the past year, Vancouver indie pop group Harlequin Gold have been trickling out singles and steadily racking up gigs around British Columbia. At last, Harlequin Gold are set to release their debut EP, Baby Blue, next Friday, September 27.

Harlequin Gold feature the core duo of sisters Avery and Elle O’Brien. Guitarist Justice McLellan (Mesa Luna, Blue J) and drummer Jamison Ko round out the quartet. Together on the bite-sized four-track EP, they continue in the vein of the shimmering indie pop they’ve been crafting since the beginning. Baby Blue features two previously released tracks, “Take Me Home” and “I Was Your Girl,” both released last spring. Between those and new tracks “Baby Blue” and “Want You More,” the EP features production work from McLellan himself as well as contributors with serious credentials including Mark Needham (Imagine Dragons, the Killers), John Raham (Destroyer, Dan Mangan, Frazey Ford), and Stephen Marcussen (Paul McCartney, Band of Horses). Across these four tracks, Harlequin Gold leap between just as many takes on indie pop. Opener “Baby Blue” ticks away as it marches towards its soaring crescendo. Always at the centre of Harlequin Gold’s songs is Avery and Elle’s harmonies. They have been singing together since they were children, and the power of the familial bond between siblings shows in how they lock into each other, specifically in their vocal harmonies. The first three quarters of “I Was Your Girl,” which calls to mind Leonard Cohen in the way they sing the line, “Hallelujah, it’s my birthday,” the sisters’ voices are braided so tightly, they nearly form a single strand. “Take Me Home” is primed to be an early fan favourite, if it isn’t one already. The song’s thrust, glistening guitar, dance hooks, and rapid-fire drum fills call to mind Metric’s most infectious hits.

The EP’s four songs are personal. “Our song ‘Youth’ is about transitioning out of the antics and drama of being young. How it’s a bittersweet process that can be extremely healthy but also difficult to grapple with in a world that puts so much value on being young,” the band have explained. On “Take Me Home,” they ponder what it means to be home and to belong. Dreamy, ruminative, and danceable, Baby Blue is a promising debut from this nascent group.

review by Leslie Chu