Her’s // The Fulford Arms, York // 11.04.17
As the Liverpool music scene experiences somewhat of a moment, Merseyside based duo Her’s are turning heads with their uniquely timeless synth-pop. Her’s played to a dense crowd at the Fulford Arms on April 11th opening for Happyness, and at first glance, it seemed like the room didn’t know what to make of them. An impressive Fender Jazzmaster on one of the two members, a bright red Rickenbacker bass on the other, and a drum machine in the middle set up the stage for one of the best two-man dance parties York has ever seen.
Barrow-born guitarist and singer Stephen Fitzpatrick and Norwegian bassist Audun Laading met at LIPA and found their way into dynamic hazy synth-pop in what appears to be an incredibly fun tumble. There wasn’t a second during their entire set that they weren’t moving around, pulling faces at one another during Dorothy, the punchy pop track that opens their album, or swaying back and forth in time to What Once Was, an 80’s-esque ballad syncopated over the drum track with satisfying precision. Fitzpatrick’s vocals ranged from low droning verses to high falsetto without so much as a flinch, adding some funky vibrato in the middle. The use of a drum track and instruments together created a sound that leans forward into modernity–Fitzpatrick and Laading were dressed like members of every indie band put together–but still harkens back to a time when the synth was holy, and colours were nothing to be afraid of.
They played their entire set with practiced ease, tossing high guitar lines and intricate chords beneath well crafted pop-songs. In listening back to their music, now compacted into one neat little album called Songs of Her’s, it’s difficult not to see them dancing along to the tracks, inextricably intertwined with the drum tracks like instruments themselves. This is music that has the lightness of the performers sewn into every element, dynamic and innovative, yet familiar and comforting. Leaning into the swaying images of summers long past takes little to no effort at all.
All through their performance, and in so much as a light inspection of their merch table, it’s clear that Her’s have an impressive grasp on the intersection between the ridiculous and the sincere. They are self-consciously silly, down to their facial expressions and the stylised way in which Fitzpatrick sings about lost love, shaking with vibrato. With every side-step they prove that it takes a particular sense of humour to make music that is infectiously fun the second it begins. To do it with acute skill however is a feat, and their songwriting shines amongst the intricate composition as only great work can. The soft place Her’s settle into with their dream-like synth beds and tongue-in-cheek dancing is the place where great, timeless music is made.