photo courtesy of Ryan Schierling at aural-fixation.com

   HARVEY DANGER

  (The following was pulled from a PDF info sheet from Harvey Danger's very own website.)

** photo courtesy of Ryan Schierling.

After a three-year hiatus, Harvey Danger began generating new material in early 2004; the songs quickly began to reflect a significant stylistic turn. In place of the distorted alt-/ garage- rock of the band's first two records, the sound of Little By Little... is mellower, less caustic, more melodically adventurous, reveling in a classic pop sensibility that owes everything to the band members' evolving musical interests. The biggest change is the dominance of piano throughout -- a fitting development given pianist/guitarist Jeff Lin's classical training on the instrument. Songs like "Wine, Women & Song," "Little Round Mirrors," "Happiness Writes White," and "Moral Centralia" define the band's confident new direction. "Cream & Bastards Rise" (which will also be released as a single/EP on Kill Rock Stars in November) and "Cool James" provide reminders that the band can still make with the catchy indie rock when the mood strikes, while "War Buddies," "Incommunicado," "What You Live By," and the haunting finale "Diminishing Returns" find HD pushing into less easily classified musical. terrain (a fleck of near-jazz here, a dash of anthemic balladry there, and is that a French horn on "Little Round Mirrors"? Damn straight...).

  The lyrics of Little By Little... represent no less an evolution from what you could safely call Harvey Danger's early, funny years. While singer Sean Nelson's wordplay is still deft and witty, the new songs are verbally spare, suggesting rather than dictating meaning, and allowing melody to prevail over intellect. As a result, his voice has never sounded better. The conflict between hope and regret dominates the album, and from the self-aware despair of album opener "Wine, Women & Song," to the grave architecture of "What You Live By," to the out-and-out celebration of love that is "Happiness Writes White," it's not hard to understand that hope is winning. Complex investigations emerge -- of the limitations of friendship ("War Buddies"), the dangers of overidentification with art ("Little Round Mirrors"), the psychological toll of political engagement ("Cream & Bastards Rise," "Diminishing Returns"), and good old fashioned romantic narcissism ("Moral Centralia," "Incommunicado") -- yielding an album of deceptively high-minded pop music.