The last thing the world needs is another surf rock band and yet IF there were going to be the genre is in no safer hands than that of Matthew Meade, whose work with Friend Roulette is all about dismantling and reconfiguring chamber pop innovatively to great results. Spritzer, is Meade’s take on beach pop and rather like Friend Roulette there’s a lot more to it than the typical characteristics of the genre like vibrant melodies and bright, summery guitar riffs namely in the darker dissatisfaction in the lyrics. It’s not just sunny days and choice swells on Meade’s beach and he finds a perfect balance between the upbeat jangle and the deeper frustration that can’t quite be buried beneath the buoyant shuffle.
While I’m still waiting for the release of their debut full length Rambutan on this side of the pond, London’s Landshapes are clearly pressing forward with the recent announcement of sophomore record Heyoon. “Stay”, the second single from their upcoming follow up jaunt probably puts as much distance as possible between the folk pop of their Lulu and the Lampshades days and is perhaps all the better for it. In a page out of Peggy Sue’s playbook, the foursome have turned sweet harmonies into the haunting and mysterious, traded dueling ukuleles in for blistering guitar and bass.
Landshapes may have debuted their more mature turn in Rambutan single “In Limbo” but “Stay” finds them growing even more – weaving together dense textures with ominously delivered hooks. There’s no denying Landshapes are still adept at crafting infectious music but on “Stay” they pair that with an exploration of textures and experimentation with song composition for a song on just the right side of wrong. Luisa Gerstein, Heloise Tunstall-Behrens, and Jemma Freeman imbue their sweltering siren song with a warrior’s fervor while Dan Blackett’s drums sets the shadowy amble on its dark course.
Landshapes sophomore record Heyoon is out May 4th in the UK on Bella Union with US release details forthcoming.
The world needs a whole lot more of this. I’m not blogging as often as I used to, but this reminds me exactly why I started IGIF nearly a decade ago, and gently pushes me to keep it going. Hits me right in the feels. Watch here »
While normally Kingston duo Shana Falana fall somewhere comfortably in the middle of dream and psych pop, on “Heavenstay” the first single from their upcoming record Set Your Lightning Fire Free finds the duo channeling the spirit of 80’s pop rock.
On “Heavenstay” lifts the meditative chant from their In the Light EP’s “Light the Fire” and gives it a treatment not unlike candying an apple. The vocals are saccharine, true, but the harmonies catapult it to euphoric highs and there’s just the right amount of rock grit towards its climactic surge that it doesn’t feel like Shana Falana are making too much of a departure. It’s a short, aggressively sweet introduction to Shana Falana’s upcoming full length that falls on just the right side of pop rock confection.
Shana Falana’s Set Your Lightning Fire Free is out April 7th on Team Love Records.
After getting their toes wet with singles “Stay With Us” and “White Morning”, Montreal’s Seoul are all-in on their debut full length I Become A Shade and “The Line” establishes that the “ambient-pop” group have no intentions of stripping back the heavy pop lean we heard in last year’s “White Morning”.
“The Line” is by far the most immediate of Seoul’s output so far – fusing elements of sound collage with hard-hitting beats and surging dance-inspiring synths. And even then Seoul never quite go the full on pop route – there’s a languid stretching chasm right at the halfway mark that makes me patiently wait for the resurgence of the track’s dancier A part. It’s refreshing to have that, in a song that could easily do without and perhaps the only flaw with “The Line” is that it just seems to damn short. It’s a radio-friendly 3 minute jam but when that fade happens, it feels much too soon. It’s a song that would no doubt benefit from a longer track time and more ideas explores but Seoul offers up the pop on their terms, not ours offering just enough to entice but leave you wanting more which while frustrating is respectable.
Seoul’s full length debut I Become A Shade is out June 9th on Grand Jury, pre-order is available now on iTunes.