The Harrow is a synth-pop/dream pop/post-punk quartet from Brooklyn. Although the origins of the band go back to 2008 when multi-instrumentalist Frank Deserto set out to make a few demos, the band didn’t really hatch until 2013. By then, he had recruited a full band.
The band’s sound harkens back to about 1982. Today’s song sounds like it’s heavily influenced by two brilliant albums from that year — The Cure’s Pornography and Cocteau Twins’ Garlands. The band’s name also borrows from gothic themes.
The band name is a specific reference to a Franz Kafka short story called “In The Penal Colony”. In that story (which I suggest you read here), a traveler is invited to a penal colony to give his opinion about a torture device that they have. The main part of this device is called The Harrow. In short, the device slowly and repeatedly etches words into a prisoner’s body befitting the crime that they’ve committed. The prisoner dies a slow and painful death without ever knowing what he’s even been convicted of, and without even standing trial. Supposedly, the prisoner always has a moment of clarity and a moment of full understanding just before death. You know… Kafka. Through a series of events, the traveler expresses disapproval of the machine, the prison officer sets a prisoner free, and sets the machine on himself. The machine fails and brutality ensues.
Anyway, today’s song is my favorite from the five-song EP.
“Milk and Honey” by The Harrow
It’s impossible for me not to think of “Wax and Wane” from the Cocteaus Garlands and also of the magnificent album-opening “One Hundred Years” from the Cure’s Pornography. Although the drum machine plays a big part in drawing those comparisons, it’s far from the only reason. The bass, the delay on the vocals, the guitar effects, the recording quality. It’s all so very 1982 in the UK. And I love that.
Download the self-titled EP from bandcamp now. It’s very good. I’ll hope for a full-length album sometime in the not-too-distant future.