Most ’90s Revivalists Pale in Comparison
Now that the 1990’s are fading in our rear-view-mirrors, becoming more and more of a distant memory, the era has become the go-to decade for young bands mining for sonic inspiration. With several well-established bands like Gliss already molding songs in styles that were formed 25 years ago, this sudden influx of young, likeminded groups make it a daunting and dizzying task for music enthusiasts to discern between them all. Even if these bands cite disparate influences for their sound – from the Northwestern punk squall of Nirvana to the shoe gazing reverb drenching of My Bloody Valentine – the result is many of these groups sound nearly identical.
On Pale Reflections, Gliss stand out from the fray, showing an ability to infuse their songs with layers of memorable melodicism; many other ’90s revival groups are simply content to offer up slabs of genre-exercise having little replay value. 2012’s Langsom Dans was a much more electronic-based affair. While the band’s most recent release certainly has plenty of electronic-influenced moments sprinkled throughout its running time, it is a decidedly guitar-based outing for the duo.
“Come Back” starts Pale Reflections off in grand style, with a pounding, compressed drum beat and a spindly, bent guitar riff that slowly morphs into grinding chord-rakes and distorted pick scrapes. Vocalists and multi-instrumentalists Victoria Cecilia and Martin Klingman’s dreamy vocals harmoniously deliver the saccharine melodies of the verse and chorus; it is the perfect illustration of a pop song much heavier than it lets on.
Shoegaze style ’90s revivalism is not the only genre influence heard within this very diverse set of songs. “Heartbeat” and “Slow to the Kill” are pure electronic-based pop brimming with trip-hop atmospherics; “Across the Sea” and “Time” add a touch of Belle & Sebastian‘s twee jangle pop. After 10 years of writing and performing, the Danish-American duo shows they have a deep understanding of the dynamics behind a perfect pop song, no matter what the genre motif may be.
Very few tracks on Pale Reflections fall flat – “Is She Coming Down” may have the least memorable chorus of these 10 songs, but it is partially redeemed with clap-along verses as well as a pretty killer guitar breakdown that hits about three-quarters of the way through. Youngsters take note – this is how you write lasting rock music.