The Harlem Shakes delivers a sharp execution of high-spirited paeans in their 5-track EP, Burning Birthdays. As their album name implies, this is a celebratory affair aflame with finely honed rock melodies and pop hooks from the bygone era of Eisenhower America. Lexy Benaim’s voice soars to sublime reaches shadowed by a delicate background of “oohs” and “ahhs” in airtight, sun-drenched melodies that still leave room for surprises. Despite the association with “doo-wop”, their album isn’t just the typical trip down memory lane. They’ve managed to synergize classic pop structures within the jangly NY-rock aesthetic that moves each song in exciting jerks and turns. In their second track, “Red Rights Hands”, Jose Soegaard’s jubilant guitar rises and falls in response to Benaim’s boyish croons fashioned in grand body-shaking melodies, briefly quieted by moments of Todd Goldstein’s solemn organ tones. From start to finish, every track stands distinctly on its own; yet all consistent in delivering that burst of youthful energy.
Although the Burning Birthdays may be your first glimpse of the Brooklyn-based group, the Harlem Shakes have been making quite a scene as the extroversive maestros of New York’s dive bars. The self-produced group already opened for the Arctic Monkeys, Fiery Furnaces, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. They’ve also played and worked with their other fellow Brooklyn band, Beirut, whose own John Natchez offered his accordion and sax for the recording of their album. Now in support of their upcoming release, they will be touring with Deerhoof, the art-rock aficionados of California, making it the most exuberant live performance of West Coast meets East this year.