Shocking Pinks consists of just one person, New Zealander Nick Harte. He writes the songs, plays all of the instruments and in doing so, creates a dreamlike wall of sound perfect for short days and long nights. After being classically trained in several instruments and then musically inspired when his mom bought him a copy of Loveless by My Bloody Valentine, Harte played in a handful of New Zealand bands, including The Brunettes, before deciding to focus on his own music full-time. This self-titled US debut is also Shocking Pinks’ first recording for DFA and consists of remixed and remastered tracks pulled from his 2005 albums for Flying Nun Records Mathematical Warfare and Infinity Land.
The MBV connection will come as no shock to anyone with ears and a decent record collection, but Harte is too talented to be content with copycat music. While at times, the vocals can barely find their way out from beneath the many layers of fuzz and the deep puddles of reverb (“Blonde Haired Girl”), at other moments the tracks are stripped-down and the vocals confessional and intimate (“You Can Make Me Feel Bad,” “Girl on the Northern Line”). A few tracks are dancefloor-ready bangers that one would expect from a DFA release (“Smokescreen,” “Cutout”) and more are just straight-up indie rock perfection (“Second Hand Girl,” “End of the World”).
The “Pinks” part of the name Shocking Pinks stems from Harte’s love of the classic 80s film “Pretty in Pink” and the rosy romantic haze his music conjures. Speaking to that, a brooding pop gem like “This Aching Deal” would certainly not sound out of place on a John Hughes soundtrack mixtape. The “Shocking” part of the name, however, is meant to communicate that Harte does not want his listeners to become too spaced out or complacent in the aforementioned haze; that desired level of slight discomfort is evident in barbaric drum fills and bass that is sometimes cranked to an almost oppressive level. (In interviews he's stressed that he likes it that way.)
Shocking Pinks sounds like the most idyllic rainy day ever. Not the kind of day where you decide to wax the kitchen floor or you get to work to find your jeans soaked through to the knees. No, Shocking Pinks evokes the feeling of sitting in a Parisian café, gripping a cigarette, sipping an espresso, and alternating between reading snatches of Proust and gazing profoundly at the drops hitting the pavement. It’s perfect for anyone who couldn’t wait for summer to end.