Shoegaze. It’s hard to describe in a succinct manner my feelings about the genre. Many times I’ve mentioned reminds me the lonesome factory whistle I could hear in the early morning hours when I was a kid in México City. Like many from my generation, I got gateway-ed into shoegaze thanks to Siamese Dream.
It’s a genre that makes me relive the past and make the present a little more fuzzier and warm.
Dead Leaf Echo, from New York City, are clearly shoegazers, from skin to marrow, through and through. Although this would be like saying grandma is looking a little weird and not acknowledging it’s a very hungry (and angry) wolf. For all the thick reverb the band throws while staring at their spats, they have a decisively new wave/80s dark pop feel. Think The Lost Boys & The Wraith, seen at a drive-in lost in time.
Like the last transmissions of a Lost Cosmonaut, the creepy synth sweeps and atmospheric guitars open the Thought & Language with ‘Conception’, a short introduction that gets the mood going. ‘Kingmaker’ is a Souvlaki-sized meteorite of gorgeous shoegaze; a quick dash through fields of golden harvests with the wind as your only companion.
Yes, the loud distortions that gusts of winds bring to your ears will be the real world analogue to the otherworldly whispers, moans and strums that Dead Leaf Echo brings to the table. ‘Memorytraces’ even has a very Britpop feel, distorted as it filters through the synapses of your brain while you struggle to remember the taste of key lime pie in the summer of ’94. ‘Dream of the soft’ could be the distorted (and probably happier) memory of your first prom dance and ‘She Breathes’ might be the false memory you created of a an interesting conversation in a Malt Shop in the 80s, one that doesn’t exist but you can see and feel with all your feelings.
Enough comparisons with memories. Memories are fine and dandy, but they are not living anymore. The music of Thought & Language is alive and well, sometimes as treacherous and fierce as the wild sea during a storm, like in the fantastic ‘Language of the waves’, a very dynamic song that finds the band doing some happy down strokes and flashy riffs. But don’t run to fast, catch your breathe and feel those synth swells that guide all instruments in unison to slowly rise, get the speed going again and run ’til the cows go home. Yes, this is my fave track of the album.
Dream Pop and Shoegaze seem to be the genres of 2013 and whilst many a fool will try to mess with these genres, the ones who’ve worked their craft wills shine. Dead Leaf Echo might be going Supernova soon with Thought & Language.
PS: Listen to the Letting Up Despite Great Faults‘ Untogether, then this album and finish it all with Amusement Parks On Fire‘s self titled. It’s a trifecta, I swear…
Words: Sam J. Valdés López