A lot of modern garage pop relies on a certain amount of an affected atmosphere for it to really work. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and I love the sound of saturated four-track tape just as much as the next guy, but I truly think this becomes problematic when artists begin to consciously affect the recording process in order to align themselves with a specific aesthetic. This type of affectation is often detrimental to the growth of any particular style because it promotes a sort of cyclical nostalgia that often prizes emulation over innovation. There are other ways to deal with stylistic nostalgia other than sheer sonic gimmickry and the dudes in Dances seem to be well aware of that, especially in their debut EP Whiter Sands.
Dances create a brand of smart, yet simplistic guitar pop that equally utilizes the jangle of the dBs and the noisy skronk of the Pixies in its construction. However, instead of trying to emulate the direct sonic qualities of those bands, Dances works with a lot of space in their recordings and focuses on instrumental interplay between the trio. They’re also not afraid to take the touchstones of their influences into stranger territories, which is evident through their quiet electronics that end the otherwise hook-laden “Holy Fool” (more of that please), the sludgy and spacious arrangements on the title track, and the overblown vocals and guitars on punk miniature “Rat.” These musical decisions, when coupled with the album’s pristine production, show that Dances are interested in much more than just nostalgia.
Whiter Sands is out via Black Bell Records. You can stream the album in its entirety below: