Wildhoney Sleep Through It

[Forward!; 2015]

Styles: shoegaze, drone pop
Others: Young Prisms, Tamaryn, Asobi Seksu, Ringo Deathstarr

It’s admirable that Wildhoney would attempt to evoke the spirit of Flying Saucer Attack, at least enough to name an instrumental piece “FSA” on their debut album. I don’t think David Pearce has made any music (or at least hasn’t released any to the public) since his one-off project Clear Horizon with Jessica Bailiff helped establish a template that Grouper would later build on. The track even vaguely sounds like something Pearce would’ve written, but the comparison begins and ends there. Despite telling Noisey in an interview earlier this year that they work service industry jobs and thus can’t afford the massively expensive gear often associated with trying to emulate Kevin Shields’s pedalboard (a feeling I can certainly sympathize with), their music is considerably more akin to Isn’t Anything than it is to Further. While the band channels the noisier aspects of peers like Whirr and Young Prisms, they are essentially closer to pop music than either and (excuse the pun) further from the ascerbic noise drone of any FSA album.

The songs on Sleep Through It tend to take a linear approach, but one that’s buoyed by the shading of the music. Concision is the name of the game on tracks like “Owe You Nothing” and album highlights “Seventeen” and “Fall In.” Here, the vocals aren’t buried in the mix, but presented at an often slightly lower volume, centered for a clarity that works to the group’s advantage. This balancing showcases their strength at designing sparkling earworms while guitars warp and peel back around them. The particular clean-guitar tone used on much of the album brings to mind something a friend once referred to as “that 80s alternative” sound: a layered, sweeping timbre you may be familiar with from albums like Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me (The Cure), What Does Anything Mean? Basically (The Chameleons), and Ocean Rain (Echo & the Bunnymen), a sound that only certain chorus pedals can truly replicate.

Some of the last generation of shoegazers have fallen on hard times lately — a quick once-over of the new A Place to Bury Strangers album will help you get my meaning here. But it’s good to know that newer bands like Wildhoney are out there. Sure, they haven’t exactly changed the game with Sleep Through It, but they’ve manged to create a deft and thoroughly enjoyable album, and it makes me excited to hear what they’ll sound like on their second and third albums.

Links: Wildhoney - Forward!

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