Review of EP ‘Lucky’ by Harlow’s Monkeys

San Francisco indie-folk band Harlow’s Monkeys make their debut on new EP, Lucky, out now. Self-described as “sad and sometimes funny,” the six songs are the kind of mellow acoustic tracks you would hear at a coffeehouse open mic night.

Clearly attempting to follow the lead of artists like Bright Eyes and Elliott Smith, singer Tommy P. delivers his lyrics in a casual voice that borders on just speaking to a tune. Harlow’s Monkeys wrap their emotional crises in jangly guitars and existential humor, which arguably the best way to serve them.

There’s no denying this EP has a distinctly West Coast vibe. There’s even a song (“Back to the Water”) that sounds like it was recorded during a local show, as the disembodied audience laughs along to lyrics filled with jokes about local things. Lucky is cohesive and unique, certainly more laid-back than anything coming out of the indie scenes on the opposite coast. These songs are simple and relaxing, leaving little responsibility to the listener to try and decipher any kind of hidden meaning. It’s the perfect album to play in the background on a lazy day, if you’re the type to enjoy laying in a field and listening to the wayfaring stories of a California troubadour.

Most of the album feels like the singer wants to grow up, but is stuck in his youth. The lyrics are playfully sad, the mark of an artist attempting to find his place in the creative world. “The Burrito Song” is juvenile in the worst way, and hardly showcases the kind of songwriting the band could be capable of. On “Bastard Song,” the band gives a bit of insight into the lonelier side of touring and wanting to open up to others. It’s a side of the independent artist’s life that doesn’t receive much attention, but Harlow’s Monkeys take an honest look at the simplest of struggles. As they say, you should write what you know. Tommy P. knows no matter he goes, he’ll always have a home.  

Lucky is available now on Spotify and Apple Music.

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