Harbour and Facel Vega are easily South Wales' best-kept secrets; sporadic touring and a limited number of releases has kept both bands reserved for a privileged local few. This split solidifies both bands' positions as heavyweights in the underground UK punk scene.
Harbour play a particularly abrasive form of melodic hardcore: There's definite Dan Yemin worship going on, underpinned by Leatherface-esque, jangly lead guitar lines. Lyrically, the band spits out venomous attacks on the nature of conformity ("The Clock": "self appointed on an imperious podium...the ordained leader of men" controls "vast armies, condemned to posterity"), advertising ("Blank Billboards"'s chilling intoning of "feed us shit under that old idiom...you are what you eat") and religion ("Ahasverus" brilliantly and concisely sums up the paradox of faith: "We build and build and build in hope that soon we will asphyxiate our fear, throttle our fright and wring our own necks...belief becomes want, for want of belief"). Harbour frequently stray from the hardcore blueprint, as the cleanly picked chords of "Hearing Loss" bear obvious parallels to Moss Icon and One Last Wish and the lush, ringing notes provide a welcome contrast to the relentless rage of tracks like "To Each His Own." The latter track evokes the intelligence and fury of classic Kill Your Idols, leading up to a sick breakdown where Ceri screams to "set up, burn down, a whole race of straw men, silenced and victimised."
Facel Vega (named after the car in which Albert Camus was killed in!) deal in noisy, discordant emo not unlike that of Rites of Spring and Embrace, with Sonic Youth-esque noise rock elements thrown in for good measure. The lyrics read like sprawling, stream-of-consciousness stories rather than conventional songs; cherry-picking the "best" lyrics is a challenge due to the context in which the songs work in. "Time as White Sound" tells of boys "fill[ing] tennis balls with matchstick heads...an explosion for these alone ears" before telling of innocence lost through age, of "cracks becom[ing] islands" and "absurd logic in the face of loss...building lives around time bombs." "Long Way Down" speaks of frustration, of the speaker "see[ing] a hole in everything complete" and needing to feel "the strength to feel assured in everything [he] know[s]." The adolescent confusion is palpable and will strike a chord with anyone who has felt the bottom fall out from underneath them.
This is exciting, boundary-pushing music that doesn't deserve to be heard by only a select few. Both bands have tracks up on their respective MySpace pages and this record (a one-time pressing) is still available through State Run Records.
Harbour's MySpace page
Facel Vega's MySpace page