Top positive review
As brutally distorted as it is eerily soothing, full of weird experimental noises with more layers of sound than an onion!
on 15 December 2014
I came across this bands' name many times over the years but decided to give them a go after hearing opener 'Only Shallow.'
I wanted to try something rocky that's a bit different, and this is one of the most difficult bands and albums to categorize you can imagine! Although pigeon-holed as 'Shoegazing', it almost sounds like a bastard offspring of Grunge at times, and considering it was released the same year as Nirvana's 'Nevermind,' comparisons to that genre are expected but ultimately unfounded, as the band is deeply rooted in post-punk / alt rock but are utterly unique. A lot of comparisons have been made to bands like Sonic Youth, but since I haven't really listened to them I can't comment. To me, as a mostly hard rock and metal fan, the best description I can muster is a 'less Metal,' less riff-driven version of the Deftones, in that they are both heavy or at least sonically excessive and soothing and the same time, but with more weird noises.
The vocals are very soothing by Bilinda Butcher and Kevin Shields and are often a sharp contrast to the heavily distorted and experimental noise going on around their melodies. There are acoustic guitars here and there, a few keyboard lines and synths and god knows what else! Vocals definitely take a back seat here especially in the mix, that is not to say they're poor or unimportant, simply lower down the pecking order, the band seem to concentrate on creating an atmosphere or feeling rather than lyrical relativism as the band themselves have described them as 'basically gibberish.'
Track lengths can vary from under a minute to close to 7, but at no point does it sound filler or overdrawn, although it can be a bit too droney and repetive for some. Some of the songs border on mimimalism however and this could be considered the album's weakness. It definitely isn't for everyone and does require at least 2/3 listens to grasp. Check it out on YouTube!
'Only Shallow' is the highlight for me, but there are many good tracks to pick from here, 'When You Sleep' is another standout and one of the few other tracks that has any sort of 'conventional' song structure and even here I use the term loosely.
I would recommend this album to rock and metal fans that want to hear something very different, unique and is for all moods and occasions...often at the same time, but as always, try before you buy!