Haybaby is a band made for basement grunge bars—dim, purplish lighting overhead, layers of graffiti peeling off of the bathroom wall, old PBR sticking your shoe to the floorboards. The Brooklyn-based trio has turned it up for their follow-up to Sleepy Kids, weaving tension and full-fledged head-banging between the five tracks on their most recent EP, Blood Harvest. In the band's own words, their second coming is much more focused on "sludge pop," or the kinds of rock that teeter on the precipice of grunge and flirt with emo in its various resurgences. Their chords either slink along with a sultry, up-to-no-good demeanor, or are lost in a frenzy of heavy thrashing and strained, screeching vocals.
The track "What It Is" is the apex of the album's energy. It's quick and abrasive—a riot that stretches just over a minute. Heavy riffs pummel alongside furious vocals, like a blip of punk in its prime, where a good set left a guitar in splinters on the stage. It's the album's sharpest edge, for sure, reaching those biting levels the other tracks only sampled or teased. Lead singer Leslie Hong takes a backseat here, giving the track a predominantly male shriek that will make you flinch before flying into your own personal fury.
"Stupid," on the other hand, moves at a relatively slower, more controlled pace. Its tone is vaguely seductive, with Leslie Hong's breathy vocals wafting over a steady drum and bass line—a combination that feels both ominous and unavoidably infectious. The song circles back to Haybaby's favorite pastime on Blood Harvest, building that edgy anticipation and then giving us just a taste of release. Their music plays like a game of cat and mouse, always leaving just enough to the imagination to keep you coming back.
A similar track to “Stupid,” at least in tone and mood, is “Kramer/Dreams.” It drifts along with Hong’s nearly apathetic voice repeating, “You can only dream a dream / You can make your dreams come true / Do what you want to do.” The lyrics have such a dry delivery, that this push—to do what you want, deep down—certainly avoids any sappy pitfalls. And, at this point, we wouldn’t expect sunny cliches from these three.
Released on Tiny Engines, Blood Harvest is an intoxicating banger. It’ll lull you into a brooding, dark calm and then send you flailing into a mosh pit. This trio has been on the watch lists for over a year now, and their latest work shows us they’ve cemented their spot. We see you, Haybaby.