Former Curve member Dean Garcia has been ratcheting out a new album with daughter Rose Berlin pretty much every year since SPC ECO formed in 2009. This is my first encounter with them and not a moment too soon.
Fifteen manages to combine shoegaze and trip-hop to create an experience of an album that deserves to be listened to in a single sitting without distractions to feel the full effect.
From opener Fading Out Of Time to epic closer Little Ones Out Of Time Mix, you are taken on a dream-like journey. The use of muffled drum lines and bass, the processed angelic vocals of Berlin, and the feedback – oh the feedback – give you the effect of having taken something seriously strong before bedtime.
The influences of 90’s trip-hop are clear to see. Massive Attack is clearly in their record collection, while Berlin’s vocal style bears an uncanny resemblance to Portishead’s Beth Gibbons.
There’s shoegaze to be found beyond the simple feedback, with some nice buzzy guitars in The Heart and Soul and standout track Breathing.
There are also some more oppressive songs, which at times can make you feel like you’re being smothered with a pillow. Fortunately, Berlin’s vocals keep it from becoming too overbearing.
From a critical perspective, this is a long album and many of the songs, as you progress, struggle to differentiate themselves. But as an overall experience it washes over you and takes you to another place.
Find a quiet spot, stick on the best headphones you can find, and let this cracker of a record take you far, far, away.
Release date: 15 February 2019
Standout track: Breathing
For fans of:
- Massive Attack
Listen on Bandcamp
The Twilight Sad have been knocking around for a few years now but, much to my shame, this is my first encounter with the Scottish post-punk five piece. But I’ll certainly be exploring their back catalogue after this.
It Won/t Be Like This All The Time is and emotionally-wrought journey through a combination of indie-rock, post-punk and shoegaze, all heavily dipped in 80s-style synths that are reminiscent of Editors at their best.
Opener [10 Good Reasons for Modern Drugs] sets the tone as a building track that layers sound on top of sound to devastating effect. It’s a style that’s re-employed across several tracks on the album, and is responsible for most of the album’s strongest moments such as Auge/Maschine and I/m Not Here [Missing Face].
Elsewhere on the album, there are a few tracks such as The Arbor and Keep It All To Myself that adopt a lower-key swing beat that will have your head swaying unconsciously, rather than the vigorous head nodding that will accompany most of the rest.
Vocalist James Graham’s heavily-accented folky voice is one of the things that makes The Twilight Sad stand out from their indie rivals but may not be to everyone’s taste. I’ll admit it took a bit of getting used to and initially I found myself enjoying the album in spite of it. However with further listens I’ve grown to appreciate the delicacy encapsulated within it, that adds to the beautiful bleakness this album oozes out of every pore.
It might be a little too early to be talking about album’s of the year – there’s a long way to go yet – but this album certainly has the potential to be in the mix and will be sitting on my playlist for some time to come.
Release dates: 18 January 2019
Standout track: I/m Not Here [Missing Face]
For fans of:
- Maximo Park
- The Cure
Listen on Spotify
My first new album review of 2019 is one that I was initially unsure about and nearly didn’t make the cut, but I’m very glad I gave it another try.
Lorelle Meets The Obsolete are a male/female duo hailing from Mexico and De Facto is their fifth album. It’s a glorious mix of pop, psych, indie, post-rock with shoegaze overtones that can send you off onto a hypnotic journey you don’t ever want to end.
The album starts with Ana, an almost-tantric hypnotic chanting track overlaid with ominous bass-heavy synth leading into desolate twisted guitars. This interruption of songs with distorted mind-blowing guitars becomes a bit of a theme throughout the album, and not one that is unwelcome.
There are some straight-out psych rock efforts with dreamy interludes such as on Acción and Resistir – the airy vocals of singer Lorena Quintanilla nicely breaking up the heavier tendancies of husband Alberto González. There are more poppy tracks, such as the disco-groove laden Líneas En Hojas, which would sound a lot like Saint Etienne if it wasn’t for the gorgeous scuzzy guitars filling up the latter part of the song.
There are also some proper wig-outs to be had. Unificado has the desert ‘trip’ feel similarly invoked by The Doors’ This is the End before melding into a shoegaze epic. Lux Lumina offers minimalistic dream-pop that launches into a marvelous full-on maximum feedback sonic assault.
In my view they saved the best until last with La Maga, a 10-minute slow build track that morphs into a wonderfully hypnotic synth-backed guitar groove that just doesn’t ever stop – and gets better and better as it goes along.
A cracking start to the year!
Release dates: 11 January 2019
Standout track: La Maga
For fans of:
- The Limiñanas
- The Doors
Listen on Spotify