Harvey Danger - Little by Little... (Cover Artwork)

Harvey Danger

Little by Little... (2005)


Harvey Danger may not be attempting anything remarkably different, but they show plenty of aptitude for playing immediately catchy and pleasing music that tends to draw listeners in with hooks, light-hearted, quirky piano play and excellent vocals. Their approach now focuses more appropriately on pop structures and a whole lot more keyboard (used well throughout the album, too), which makes some of the songs incredibly catchy (perhaps ironic now that they've moved away from the major label) without seeming too overproduced. The most noticeable flaw is the drop off in the later stages of the album, where they simply cannot maintain the same level as through the much better first half.

The production value has been upped for Little, which helps the change in emphasis in the music; and while it allows room for more aggressive parts, ("Cream and Bastards Rise") it also scores big through centerpiece "Little Round Mirrors." The former is pushed heavily by Evan Sult on drums, while Sean Nelson's vocals careen through the song with enough bite to make it believable. Meanwhile, the album seems to build into and around the latter, which is arguably the best song on the album, building alongside a steady keyboard line and adding elements in all the right places to keep the song moving. The drums get emphasized more, a simple brass section adds a nice transition piece and the end bridge triumphantly stomps into the closing chorus, the energy having been completely turned around. Unfortunately, no other song attempts the same emotional approach, with the only other moody song being the depressed "What You Live By." The album flows fairly well, stressing more upbeat moods with a few sobering songs thrown in for breaks, and while there are songs that lag behind, nothing totally flops.

Harvey Danger won't change anyone's mind about this brand of indie pop (or whatever you wish to call it), but their movement toward the pop edge of the spectrum has produced some fairly strong results that are easily appreciable. Harvey Danger have shown they have the ability to put these pop structures to use in various ways to bring about differing moods, and while some moments are less inspired, the whole comes off as a successful, polished work.