Boomkat Product Review:
Nobody does timeless yet modern ennui quite like HTRK. On their 4th album proper the duo trustingly cup your heart in a cats cradle of crepuscular rhythms & valium blues, all riddled with Jonine’s ear worming mantras and Nigel Yang’s heat haze guitar shimmer
Following the longest wait yet between any of their albums, ‘Venus In Leo’ is totally worth the wait. Issued five years on from ‘Psychic 9-5 Club’, their new collection was recorded in the hills outside their home city, Melbourne, and has a suitably lofty, cool, spacious air about proceedings that makes their previous albums, recorded variously between Sydney, Santa Fe, and Berlin feel urgent or even choking by comparison. That’s maybe understandable considering the tragic circumstances surrounding earlier albums (they lost a bandmate, mentor, and parent during this period), yet while ‘Venus In Leo’ is still deliciously gothic and downbeat, it’s clear to hear they’ve come to terms with their quota of life’s worries, with Jonine Standish’s vocals more than ever bearing the slow, travelled pathos of a country folk singer, and come beautifully accentuated by Nigel Yang’s acoustic strums. Don’t worry though, the spine tingling synths and lip-bitingly strong drum machine pulses are still firmly in place.
Preceded by two of its highlights, including Jonine’s sigh at the state of love in the age of social media on ‘Mentions’, and the aching shuffle of ‘Dying of Jealousy’ (whose singles both have killer B-sides), the album contains a further seven new songs that only confirm HTRK among the definitive songwriters of their generation. Between the opiated allure of ‘Into The Drama’, the shivery sweet acknowledgement of a lover’s compliments in ‘You Know How To Make Me Happy’, Jonine’s description of lazy afternoon sentiments of ‘Dream Symbol’, and the wilting petals of Yang’s guitar and dubbed drum machine in ‘New Year’s Day’, HTRK arguably prove the most crucial bridge between their heroes The Birthday Party/Rowland S. Howard/Suicide/David Lynch and a wave of modern pop tristesse from Lil Peep to Billie Eilish, whether those artists know it or not.