Enlisting the help of Blur guitarists and up-and-coming singers, the hopeful fruits of Dhani Harrison’s latest album, Innerstanding, are hard to ignore. Anyone expecting something in closer tune to The Beatles is in for a gut-punch of a surprise. In a way, the collaborating artists were probably a tad shocked too. Opener Dangerous Lies is certainly far from when Harrison played alongside the likes of Eric Clapton and Jeff Lynne. Perhaps that is the reason Innerstanding is a tech-fuelled piece which ramps up a fear factor for the modern, adapting world. A cacophony of sound and a slick guitar solo opens a messy opening track which feels more like pins and needles for the ears than anything constructed or planned. Even then, it is hard to mount much hate for a well-layered bit of music.
It gets no better or worse for the Graham Coxon-featuring New Religion. Prolific Coxon, who has already cemented the top spot in the end-of-year-round-up offers up some words and saxophone for Harrison here. They are possibly the strongest part of this record – as Innerstanding unfortunately shows musical talent is not inherited. Passable tracks come and go for this record, leaving little imprint for either Harrison’s future legacy or the album itself. Little to no impact is present, and by track two it is too late to save it. What follows is vague ideas, cobbling together the electronic tones which strike through as technological fears. New Religion is too obvious a title but grows nicely – or is it just the best of a bad bunch?
Much of Innerstanding is a scattershot display of styling. It cannot settle on one theme – instead flickering between well-worked guitar pieces on the cheerfully titled Ahoy There! or paranoid poking of future-proofed horrors. There is little room for much else when each track is taken up, predominantly, by clangs of electronic fuzz and distortion. This frequency Harrison finds is too similar to one another, clashing through the setlist offers a scattershot of ideas but very little change to the rhythm – it bleeds into one another and there are few moments the songs can breathe of their own accord. The Dancing Tree lingers on as a bit of radio static and nothing more, an industrial rock blur without the commitment. Doomscrolling mentions see Harrison, obviously, try and tackle the modern world, but it goes about as poorly as expected. It at least avoids the pitfalls of boomer-rock trying to clutch to what was so apparently good about the 1970s.
Innerstanding starts to weigh down under the length of its songs – six-minute repetitions like Right Side of History are a chore to get through. Hold it at arm’s length and dabble in a few bits and pieces, but a near-hour of frightened tech notes is a chore at times. It wanes and whines through the likes of Ghost Garden or the instrumentally heavy La Sirena – and none of it feels attached or at peace with the message buried, deeper and deeper, under these thick layers. Palatably forgettable – even with a backing choir to pad out I.C.U., about as empty a track as it gets for Innerstanding. In understanding Innerstanding there is the need to note Harrison wanting to move away from the sounds his father worked for decades. The final two tracks are in tune with the works of George Harrison – and unfortunately for Dhani Harrison – are the best the album has to offer.