Guilt Mirrors

Shocking Pinks

Released: 17 February 2014

Genre: Alternative

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New Zealander Nick Harte has holed himself away for the best part of six years – small wonder he's got so much material piled up.

With his first album since 2007's self-titled minor beauty, Harte (Shocking Pinks, a band in one man) has returned with a triple. Drug problems, an earthquake that devastated his home town of Christchurch and the life of a hermit have done little to blunt his creative edge. He's putting it all out there in a two-and-a-half hour splurge. Could be a foolish move.

It's variety that lets Harte get away with it. His aesthetic is generally dusty, mussed-up indie but peppered with sweet little touches. Swam brightens itself up with warped steel drums, Keep Dreaming cuts up its vocals in scratchy hip hop style and that fantastic "What's Up With That Girl?" sounds like Cocteau Twins gone house – maybe that would've actually happened if they'd stuck around.

In fact, house music is the other string to Harte's bow. Much of the electronica here coalesces into a drone, but occasionally he gives it some, with the clopping dark funk of Love Projection a paradoxical highlight and the fierce unadorned techno of Slightly Killed not far behind. Guilt Mirrors dips here and there, but with 35 tracks you're going to find something you're into. Flawed ambition – always more interesting than its perfect counterpart.

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