Pharlee – Pharlee (Tee Pee Records)
Phar out. Definitely. Phar fetched. Probably. Phar from the finished article? Perhaps. But this psych-tinged heavy blues debut from San Diego quintet Pharlee offers a tantalising glimpse into the future. If Macarena Rivera and her band mates can build on this brilliant fusion of retro-modern noise then that future is bright.
Sitting somewhere between Blues Pills and the much-missed Huntress this is a band that seemingly knows no bounds. There’s an affecting, Eastern flavour to Warning – one of the three tracks here that clocks in at more than six minutes and is better for it. Pharlee need room to breathe and don’t quite manage that on tunes like Creeping and Darkest Hour where there’s little opportunity to change the pace or up their game.
There’s no doubt Rivera’s visceral growl lends itself to doom laden, 70s-styled scuzz. But there’s more than enough melody here to suggest an acoustic-led ballad isn’t out of the question sometime soon.
But not right now. At this moment in time Rivera is all about bouncing off bellowing riffs and jostling for position with colossal keys. Going Down is dirty blues that grabs the attention and never loses its grip – it doesn’t sound like a band testing the waters on its self-titled debut. The self-confident tone and expansive musicianship is more akin to festival stalwarts breaking new ground, buoyed by decades of commercial success and critical acclaim.
If Pharlee are this good now then just imagine where they’ll be in five, 10 or 15 years. They’ve got the quality but it will be consistency that determines just how Phar they can really go.