If you grew up in the 1980s then you get it. If you grew up just on the outskirts of the neon decade then you might as well have grown up at the turn of the century. The 1980s were a pretty incredible time to be a freckle-faced kid, cruising around the suburbs with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Not quite dark enough for the Over The Edge crowd, but definitely not all Disney Channel and “Morning in America”, either. The 70s left an indifference hanging over the country. It left a darkness that influenced the culture; from home furnishings to film to music. Skate culture had its roots in the late-60s and 70s and ventured into the 80s, as did the world of BMX. The 1980s did feel a little like an awakening. The colors got brighter, the kids got more independent(latchkey generation), and the music became more fun. The skate and BMX-lifestyle was an identity for teenage outcasts. The Mongoose was their ride to and fro, and the BMX and skate park was their home away from home.
Deadly Avenger and Luke Insect, or D.A.L.I., have come together to give us an imagined soundtrack to a BMX youth we may or may not have had. A musical romance about freestyle, first love, sunburns and road burns. WHEN HARO MET SALLY is the album you wish told the story of your misspent youth.
So here’s the scene:
Del Mar Skate Park, California, Summer ’84. Blinding sun hits chrome sending rainbow prisms across hot asphalt. There’s a buzz in the air. Teenage dreams and dope smoke mix with the Pacific breeze. Boy meets girl. Girl meets boy. This summer’s never gonna end. Tricks are being pulled and moves are being made that these crowds have never seen. Even the wood-pushers are blown away. Seeds sewn a decade ago by Todd and Devin Banks on Overland Drive have come to fruition. Dominguez is up next, he’s 15, and hitting 6 feet of air. Then it’s Gonzalez. And Vanderspek. This is going down in history.
But quickly added is this:
Except this isn’t the West Coast of America. And the sun’s not shining. These are the grey suburbs of Leicester and London. And our Bmx’s are shit.
It doesn’t matter if this is Overland Park, California or Leicester. The music and the visuals created by D.A.L.I. will transport you to a time when BMX was life and an afternoon buzz kept things in perspective. Where BMX and skate culture seems to have always gone hand in hand with punk rock, here it’s soundtracked by electro synth and early hip hop beats. Deadly Avenger and Luke Insect have erected and 80s youth dedicated to hitting the perfect trick and the most air all the while synths color the proceedings with sunburnt orange and crisp sky blues. Chrome handlebars glint and blind in the afternoon sun and the endless summer is scored with names like Roland, Juno, and Vans.
WHEN HARO MET SALLY plays like an 80s mixtape. Something played in a massive boombox just on the edge of a jump as names like Mongoose, Red Line, and Haro catch major air. Tracks like “Chrome”, “Too Tuff To Bluff”, and “Goodtimes In Badlands” capture the essence of summer days and that freedom of youth we all still look back at longingly. There’s both chunky, beat street funk and ethereal melancholy displayed here beautifully. There’s something very lilting about title track “When Haro Met Sally”. It pulls no punches in grabbing those heartstrings and pulling till you say “Sally!” The expanse of something like “Mushroom Grip” leads into the electro-funk of “Sunset On Overland Drive”. “In Dominguez We Trust” mixes early hip hop with synth pop touches to give you just the right amount of street hustle and heart breaking, if that’s your thing.
If you’re a fan of Le Matos’ Turbo Kid score then you will find much to dig into here. Much like Le Matos, D.A.L.I. lock into the 80s and pull us into them. Like some chromed-out time machine, WHEN HARO MET SALLY takes us on a journey to sunny shores and molten-hot asphalt where the ultimate trick is to keep the sun hanging in the blue skies just a little longer.
Deadly Avenger and Luke Insect have built a world of nostalgia that even those that don’t know the BMX world of the 80s can fall into and get lost in. It’s an imagined soundtrack to California dreams of inverts, turndowns, and alleyoops.
WHEN HARO MET SALLY is an ode to youth and the longing that sometimes comes with remembering it.
8. 2 out of 10
Full Disclosure: I never owned a Mongoose, Red Line, or Haro. I owned a 1982 red and chrome Huffy BMX. I never did an invert, turndown, or alleyoop. I wrecked that bike more than I rode it, and I have no regrets.