Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Boy Harsher establish a new vision on the soundtrack to their directorial debut The Runner

"The Runner OST"

Release date: 21 January 2022
Boy harsher the runner art
23 January 2022, 16:27 Written by Kyle Kohner
The show goes on for Boy Harsher — stage or no stage. This time in the form of a delightfully bloody short and its accompanied score, The Runner.

For Boy Harsher, the pandemic has been stifling music they make, as has been the case for all small, touring artists. But within the past two years, even more unfortunate news transpired. Vocalise Jae Matthews was diagnosed with MS. With the world and personal matters caving in, the duo did what they only could do — create. Not only did Boy Harsher step outside and put one foot in front of the other, but they also ran into the bleak unknown, only to be stopped in their tracks by a rekindled first love — cinema.

The Runner, the co-directorial debut project from Matthews and her production partner Augustus Muller, is a brooding horror short with hues of Under The Skin and specks of Blood Simple. Still, this film proves to be a beaming light of hope — a cathartic exercise from a musical duo whose songs are undeniably befitting for wearers of sweat-drenched black t-shirts, beer-soaked dance floors, smeared mascara, all coexisting within a small stuffy venue. Though Boy Harsher's music tends to communicate dark, desperate, and drab emotions, listeners are urged, possessed even, to dance their worries into oblivion. No matter how derivative their music may seem at times, they are one of those rare acts that brandish revivalism with purpose. Their purpose this time was to construct a door into an escapist realm to expel the demons that feed on showgoers Monday through Thursday.

Though the traditional way of building a film score and or soundtrack usually caters to the film itself, Boy Harsher flipped the proverbial script with The Runner, and it shows — for better and worse. The music is clearly the driving force of a picture full of great performances, beautiful cinematography, and stupid-fun practical effects that pay homage to body horror of the late 80s and early '90s. Truthfully it's one very long music video but an effective vessel to the swirling darkness that moves through Boy Harsher's sound. Though in past projects, fans would've received a healthy smattering of danceable bops to indulge themselves, the duo's latest only offers four traditional pop songs. Meanwhile, the other four tracks are mere whispery ambient pieces that more or less serve the movie's need for a traditional score.

Some may be disappointed in this relatively scant offering of Boy Harsher's usual propulsive darkwave energy in order to cater to the film's more conventional demands. But these amorphous, sinister whispers also work well as the humming dark matter cushioning tracks like "Autonomy" and "Machina", allowing them the space and pace to marinate and leave an impression. Whether or not Boy Harsher continues to release music as accompanied pieces to films, simply exploring and pushing the orthodox confines of the soundtrack concept has opened the door for the duo to carry over this effective pacing into future records. Though it wouldn't hurt to add one or two more customary Boy Harsher pop songs in the mix to help satiate our blood-thirsty pallets too.

Needless to say, it would be negligence to deny the certified bangers present. Single "Give Me A Reason" is a comparably lo-fi presentation considering what we're used to from our shadowy King and Queen. However, it still possesses that hypnotic bounce that continues to render Boy Harsher's music profusely enrapturing. It's mysterious, romantic, and decadent, especially with Matthews' haunting incantations at the forefront, forming a breathy void to swallow listeners whole. "Give Me A Reason" is a delightfully by-the-numbers Boy Harsher moment, but given where and how it is placed within the tracklist, it just feels fresh.

Directly following "Give Me A Reason", Boy Harsher offers up their first flattering attempt at trying something different. The directly upbeat "Autonomy" is one of those rare moments where Matthews completely relinquishes vocal duties to another, enlisting Cooper B Handy, aka LUCY, to command the mic with their own smoky, befittingly androgynous voice. Handy's performance is unique enough to add a new wrinkle to Boy Harsher's sound, but still, at home to remind listeners this is a Boy Harsher song through and through. It's exuberant, obnoxiously catchy — a track that, despite its neurotic lyrics, brings up unwavering joy in a listener's heart.

Boy Harsher continues to run and push themselves far. It seems they're traversing into territory that may feel foreign at times. Still, each project, especially The Runner, has seen them remain true to who they are and the music they make while still managing to add a new dimension and layer of complexity to their story and vision.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next