Harper Lee - Train Not Stopping EP

matinée 032  /  September 2001
Harper Lee - Train Not Stopping EP
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Harper Lee - Train Not Stopping EP

matinée 032  /  September 2001

Third single from Brighton duo and the first release since their highly acclaimed debut album "Go Back To Bed" hit the shops in February. Lead track "Train Not Stopping" combines masterfully layered keyboards and guitars with the sincere, eloquent vocals characteristic of the band. "I Could Be There For You" is a rhythmic slice of melancholy pop with gently strummed guitars, emotional lyrics, and a slight soulful tenor. "The Sea Gently Lifting" closes the EP with delicate simplicity, hovering somewhere between Mazzy Star and Galaxie 500. Arguably the band's strongest release to date, and a soon-to-be classic addition to the Matinée catalogue.

  1. Train Not Stopping
  2. I Could Be There For You
  3. The Sea Gently Lifting


the press release from matinee was disturbing: "introducing a new soulful influence" it said. no need to fear, though - that was a blatant lie and we are still talking brighter rather than berry gordy. keris howard's genius is a consistent, stable comfort and it is exhibited to usual stunning effect on the title track, which interpolates a winningly hummable chorus into another delicious vehicle of melancholy and regret. "this is the last song, because I'm bored of being ignored", sighs keris, as the failure of the world outside to recognise the class of this kind of tune moves into its second decade. underpinned by a brisk strumming pattern, then decorated with precise picked-out guitars, "train not stopping" moves harper lee further ahead of the chasing pack. and in such an effortless way. "i could be there for you" is nearly as good: there are unconscious hints, i think, of the smiths in some of the phrasing, aswell as conscious ones, probably, of the sentiment of the field mice's "if you need someone", which keris did after all play bass on at the spitz last month. the final track, "the sea gently lifting", has a very hood-like title, but despite being the most atmospheric of the bunch, it lacks the irresistibility of the other songs. still, it seems so simple right now. i could happily do nothing but listen to these songs til christmas, and harper lee are still in charge.   --In Love With These Times In Spite Of These Times
Not a million miles from ballboy's quietly tragic moment is the beautiful sound of 'Train Not Stopping', the opening tale of loss and regret that marks the opening track of this EP. Echoed vocals recite a hopeless story of lost love and self-questioning over a softly-strummed guitar. It's straightforward and very, very effective, a starkly moving and sparkling little gem of a song. 'I Could Be There For You' is in a similar vein, albeit slightly more cheery. Where the previous song was of losing hope, this is of a teenage infatuation and hope against hope. Again, it's soft and luscious, reminiscent of The Clientele in it's fantastic simplicity. 'The Sea Gently Lifting' is a lilting little number, a subdued slice of bittersweet end of summer. Gorgeous, gorgeous stuff indeed.   --Strange Fruit
All the way from Brighton, Harper Lee make the most beautiful music, and ‘Train Not Stopping’ continues and enhances this. There’s only two of ‘em, but they make a sound like an orchestra on valium, filling every corner of a song, be it with picked guitar, mournful keyboard or Keris Howard’s maudlin whisper. There are hints of the simplistic beauty of Galaxie 500 at work here, and for that I love Harper Lee. I really do.   --Tasty
Harper Lee is made up of Keris Howard and Laura Bridge. Howard used to be in Brighter, who recorded for the Sarah label in the early '90s. All the hallmarks of the stereotypical Sarah sound are here: the melancholy songs, the gently strummed guitars, the synth strings that hum morosely in the background, and the wispy and sad vocals. All three tracks sound like they were recorded in 1991 by a Sarah band -- Brighter, even. Any indie popper who longs for the return of the Sarah sound should hunt this record (and their full-length CD, Go Back to Bed) down and clutch it to their trembling, anorak-clad bosom.   --All Music Guide
Likewise those dharma bums Harper Lee who, let’s be honest, aren’t much different from Sarah sensitives, Brighter, ten years ago. Or, at least, to the untrained ear - no pun intended: ‘Train Not Stopping’ geddit? Oh boy. It’s the same kinda lover’s complaint but with the innocence slightly outweighed now by sophistication and worldly awareness. ‘I’ll put my arms around you,’ he sings lovingly, ‘I know what you’re going through. I’ve been there too.’ Strummy acoustic guitar threaded by picky electric, mooing keyboards. ‘Train Not Stopping’ takes the idea of shoulda-woulda-coulda and goes with it.   --Wide Open Road
Harper Lee consists of Keris Howard (vocals, guitars, keyboard) and Laura Bridge (guitars, keyboard, drums), who have taken some time out from their regular bands, Trembling Blue Stars and Kicker, to further develop their musical creativity. The duo first appeared together on two 7" singles 'Dry Land' and 'Bug', and then followed this with an album 'Go Back To Bed'. Keris and Laura really prove that their Stars-Kicker union works well on their latest single 'Train Not Stopping'. I first played it one Saturday night. I was staying over at my friend's house. She went to bed early and, feeling like a stranger in her big lounge, I put the single on to keep me company. As I lay feeling cold on the sofa, the music literally covered over me with its warmth. My mind took off wandering back into the past as Keris sang on the opening title song: "This is the last stop/ At the emptiest platform/ The final walk home." Peaceful guitars mingle with piano and drums to keep the beat of the song moving. " I'm scared to be so alone/ It seems so simple right now/ What I could have done is what I should have done..."Keris continues. Open, beautiful and honest, this is the sort of lyric that once you apply it to your own life, it could help to see you through it. While the music "sat" next to me, I looked deep into my own soul as I watched bubbles melting and waggling in a lava lamp and listened to the peaceful melody of the second track 'I Could Be There For You'. 'The Sea Gently Lifting',the closing track, resounds with jingly guitars and Keris' calm vocals. It has been suggested that Harper Lee are in the same spirit as Belle and Sebastian, Keris and Laura, however, use a range of instrumental possibilities fully to deepen and extend their sound, which results in...in...simply the 'Train Not Stopping'. Enjoy it!   --Pennyblack Magazine
Harper Lee is a Brighton-based two-piece that specializes in what are ostensibly pop songs with depressing -- even maudlin -- lyrics. Despite the eye-rolling that such a description would engender, they're worth seeking out. The three tracks showcased here are proof that this band is headed for greater things; you can take your overblown Belle and Sebastians and stick 'em out by the bin -- Harper Lee are that good. The songs have a faintly misty feeling to them. It's difficult to describe, but the shimmering keyboard and chiming guitar lines of songs like "The Sea Gently Lifting" evoke the sound of rain, or the feeling of a fogged-in seaside. Hot cups of tea and a half-suppressed sigh are what I hear coming out of my speakers while listening to these tunes, which could easily be held up against anything The Chills ever released. Janglepop for the bummed, Harper Lee walk a fine line, but the loss in the lyrics stays on the right side of overwrought. Inexplicably, this EP reminds me of some of New Order's better moments. I can't put my finger on why, precisely: perhaps it's the sadness-in-happiness aspect that Harper Lee conveys so successfully, or maybe it's a vague sonic similarity. Either way, that should be enough of a rave-up; if they're good enough to put New Order in mind (and in a good way, too) on the first hearing, then they're good enough for me.   --Splendid
It sometimes boggles my mind when I hear such amazing music made by only the union of two people. Much like Windy and Carl or Pop Off Tuesday, Harper Lee write atmospheric laments of love and love lost with jangle guitars, light drums and touches of keyboards only to accent the songs. Harper Lee write songs that in real life would be compared to that person you had to leave behind or say goodbye to after high school as you went off to college. A relationship strained but in the heart still very real, but in reality it’s over.   --The Bee's Knees
"Train Not Stopping" is the best of this lot from the Brighton, England duo. Simple organ chords and acoustic strumming, with the spacey reverbed vocals always center stage. Not that far from Sarahland, these three songs will leave you wanting more.   --Shredding Paper