Image credit: Kirk Lisaj
Toronto-based composer and avant-pop artist, Scott Hardware – a moniker for Scott Harwood – has shared his new single, “Watersnake” which arrives as the latest to be lifted from his forthcoming third album, Ballad of a Tryhard, out via Telephone Explosion Records (Mas Aya, Pantayo, Jane Inc) on March 4, 2022. The new single follows November’s FLOOD, Exclaim and CBC Radio-tipped track, “Summer” with the new album following Harwood’s 2020 release, Engel which found fans at The FADER, Gorilla vs Bear, Paste, Bandcamp Daily and more.
Whereas Engel was rooted in the sounds of murky vaporwave, soaked in decayed electronics and industrial noises, Ballad of a Tryhard finds Harwood aiming for something bolder and more immediate. Over luminous keys and sky-sweeping melodies, Harwood reverse engineers his capabilities as a composer skilled in the art of complexity to deliver something unselfconsciously ambitious; a reimagination of experimental adult contemporary that tweaks the limits of Y2K rock and soft rock with curiosity and appreciation.
Crafted in Spain and co-produced with Matt Smith (Prince Nifty, Lido Pimienta), Ballad of a Tryhard is a snapshot of weeks spent in Elche, a sleepy Mediterranean city, wandering through emptied-out streets, becoming acquainted with the interiors of a historic apartment block, and living for the first time with a familiar love. On Ballad of a Tryhard Hardware conducts another painstaking character evaluation to better understand the world by looking inward. Engel used the 1987 film Wings of Desire as a lens for Scott’s self-analysis but with Ballad…, he attempts a conversation by honoring the splendor of “living between emotions.”
Arriving as another fine example of Harwood’s growing mastery of these crushing heartstring ballads, “Watersnake” ties together breezy guitar with lilting orchestral strings – provided by Deanna H. Choi – and Scott’s idiosyncratic croon. An album highlight with its ability to really stick around as an earworm, the track, which features members of Phedre, Lee Paradise, WHIMM, Vallens, Blunt Chunks, and Jaunt, makes an anthemic case for self-surety.
Speaking about “Watersnake”, Harwood says: “My mom lived near this lake for a while, and whenever I’d go to visit her, I’d want to walk along the shore and have a moment. She’d always tell me before heading out to watch out for the water snakes. In fact, this lake’s little beach was covered in them. My brother who lived nearby would have little snake babies falling in clusters from the roof of his garage. I mean no disrespect to snakes, but it’s ghastly to see them slither over top of the water. It all must have left a mark because when I sat down to write a song about a villain, an exploiter, the first thing I thought of was “Watersnake!”
Prior to his solo work as Scott Hardware, Harwood played with indie rock stalwart Toronto groups like Ostrich Tuning and released ambient pop as Ken Park. A move to Berlin influenced his 2016 debut, Mutate Repeat Infinity, which centered the dancefloor as a site of queer resilience. 2020’s Engel pulled direct inspiration from Wim Wender’s 1987 haunting masterpiece Wings of Desire. In 2021 Harwood was accepted into the Slaight Family Music Lab.
Pre-order Scott Hardware‘s Ballad of a Tryhard at this link here.
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