Vocalist Danny Worsnop left metalcore group Asking Alexandria and formed an ‘80s rock band to preach motifs of fornication, ogling and countless other taboos into the ears of scene kids worldwide. Typically, such a move would draw a dose of harsh cynicism and elitist condemnation, delivered sarcastically from the digital pulpit. But Worsnop’s quartet aims not at matter, but rather at method and mood.
This humility coupled with a frankness of intentions have earned “We Are Harlot,” the band’s self-titled debut, some credibility. While lyricists like Ronnie Radke (of Falling In Reverse) comically attempt to channel suffering with vague and grating clichés like “the demons are all in my head,” Worsnop openly stated in a Rocksound interview that We Are Harlot’s debut “is basically about sex!” Paradoxically, lines like “I can’t think clearly ‘cause your beauty is killing me” are inoffensive to the active listener simply because they do not feign or aspire to any meaning. They are instead stale metaphors and indicate that the true focus must lie elsewhere.
In this way, “We Are Harlot” is reminiscent of Fall Out Boy’s “From Under the Cork Tree.” No one with a semblance of maturity and emotional depth cares what Patrick Stump or Worsnop are saying — as long as the vocal melodies are present, the two singers could sell nearly as many LPs while spewing communist propaganda. One needs only to examine the verses of “Denial” to appreciate the sheer intricacy of Worsnop’s rhythm. The lead single’s even-numbered lines such as “scratching and sweating and screaming” and “draw the windows, lock the doors” feature a fluctuation in key that disregards the natural pronunciation of syllables, instead zealously pursuing pure melodic appeal.
Here and elsewhere in “We Are Harlot,” method prevails over content in part due to drummer Bruno Agra and guitarists Jeff George and Brian Weaver. These musicians provide a backdrop that is lusty in the lyrically-pertinent sexual sense, but also in the mammoth-sized masses of melody crammed into each three-minute thrill ride of a track. The rustic, country tone of “Someday” and the nostalgic yet simple swing of “Easier to Leave” lend a breath of fresh air to music enthusiasts who are disenchanted by the watered-down blast beats and chug-chug meters of Great Recession-era musicians frothing to make a quick buck. Icing on the cake comes in the form of quick keyboard sweeps in “Dancing On Nails” and an abundance of crisp solos and backing licks by George.
Worsnop’s growled “let’s start the show” in “One More Night” is emblematic of the 1980s vibe that We Are Harlot is trying to bring back. It is a sound that revolves around flair, theatrics and a big ball of hype. But this cluster of tracks bursting at the seams with adrenaline is just what the music industry needs to recover from the bland, boring and blasphemous tunes that have lately been packaged as “rock” or “metal.”