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Descender –  Post Louis (reviewed by Dave Franklin)

Wandering well-trodden paths and staying within comfort zones is all very well but surely life is about seeing what is around the next corner, about trying new experiences and feeling new sensations. And that is as true for those making music as those listening to it. But sometimes that feeling of being too far from shore is a bit too overwhelming. The perfect balance is being just enough out of your depth that things are exciting but knowing that nothing too scary is going to happen, that safe, familiar, solid ground is within easy reach.

Post Louis are experts at getting slightly lost. That is they go off the map but only to a point that they, and indeed you the listener, know how to find a way back. They blend the familiarity of the past, of indie, rock and pop structures, with an ability to bend them almost to breaking point. Almost but not quite and that is the important thing. The result is a warped and off-kilter approach to pop, a reimagining of the rock ideal, something familiar yet exploratory. Post-pop? Art-Rock? Perhaps but let’s not label it. Label things and people start developing expectations and Post Louis is not a band you want to try to second guess.

Stress Fracture is the perfect example of their eclecticism, pushing into urgent rock territory, infectiously pop aware, driven by grinding post-punk bass lines and above it all Stephanie Davin’s vocals wandering between earthy and angelic and if reminiscent of anyone I can only put my finger on Luckless’ similar fragile meets frantic songlines.

At the other extreme Labyrinthitis is all about gorgeous sonic textures, waves of ambient noise and flowing sound washes sometimes conflicting often complementing each other and the title track is a minimalist and imploring slice of pop, slow burning its way through otherworldly soundscapes and bathing in reflections from a fractured sonic mirror. Like Bad Dreams is a shimmering and shattered salvo, intense, claustrophobic and beautiful in the way that perhaps abandoned industrial landscapes are beautiful, the  unexpected appeal found only in broken things. Who needs classic beauty when you have such gorgeous and unexpected musical invention?

Descender is the perfect way to kick off the reviewing year, setting the benchmark high right from week one and reminding us that if you haven’t already resigned the idea of the musical genre to the bin then you should do so immediately. Tear up the musical map, getting (slightly) lost is where its at!

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