Post Harbor - They can't hurt you if you don't believe in them. (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Post Harbor

They can't hurt you if you don't believe in them. (2010)

Burning Building

Ignore the dubious title, and Post Harbor's They can't hurt you if you don't believe in them. reveals itself as a monolithic, spacey pleasure in the vein of Mogwai's post-rock mixed with Silversun Pickups' brand of shoegaze. Reportedly, the band set aside over a year to craft this, the followup to their 2007 debut, Praenumbra, which probably helped the members take a notably formless sound and hone it down to a relatively tight 50 minutes. The result is something that should appeal to fans of anything explosive, keyboard-laden and droning. Also, vocalist Colin Isler has this alien quality to his voice that recalls Sunny Day Real Estate circa The Rising Tide. So, there's that too.

The album opens and closes with fanfare (making the last track "Intro" was kind of funny). "Ponaturi" is a two-minute mini-suite that hits all of the band's favorite modes--grinding noise, ambient interludes--before segueing into "Cities of the Interior." The transition is so seamless that I suspect the band broke the tracks up just to avoid having any one song exceed 10 minutes. "Interior" is almost a test for listeners. Yeah, it's eight-and-a-half minutes long. But given the ebb, flow and interplay of the album, identifying the songs' beginnings and endings seems irrelevant. Just accept that the nerdcore-ish keyboards bring in a video game-like quality before strings completely wash that sound out, followed by a plaintive, simple piano part. It's all up-and-down dynamics, a collection of sounds that work well with the volume knob set to one or 10.

Any major complaints against Post Harbor are going to be atypical of their ilk as well. This isn't three-chord punk or Beatlemania; it might not be the best driving music. Sticking to bands within their hemisphere, Post Harbor could probably benefit more from the iconoclasm of, say, Envy, who use hardcore to give their more ethereal sections clearer contrast and vice versa. But that's something the group can take into account on LP #3. For now, They can't hurt you stands as a solid collection of otherworldly space rock.