Los Angeles rockers The Loud Bangs returned in May with their latest EP ‘Why Things Fray’. An interesting reflection of work rate and love for their genre – the band’s eighth 5-song EP in 16 months presents the idea of loving at a distance. The songs are hazy, hard-to-read in places and foreboding – figurative for this shoegaze outfit’s topic of choice.
Opening track ‘Analog Test’ is a fitting beginning. Thudding downstrokes on a pulsing, gain-pumped guitar are like a dark cloud we negotiate through before the pinkish red skies of the floating synths and the light of the piercing analogue key lines. And then, it stops. The euphoria is there, yet in line with the band’s affinity to love at a distance – it’s just out of reach and in the second track – the dark clouds return for ‘The Penelope Cannon’.
Personally, I found this track compelling, yet a little disjointed in places. Understandably, Shoegaze does offer an artistic freedom or wiggle room in that regard – yet at times the musical highs of ‘The Penelope Cannon’ were slightly undermined by a hard to place lyric. Yes, there was solid instrumental structure clearly akin to heavyweights of the genre, yet the lead seemed lost in the mix. Unintelligible and at those times when I could hear it, perhaps out of tone and place – it left me thinking whether it could’ve been simply an instrumental piece instead.
However, whatever slight qualms I had with the second track – these were forgotten by track three ‘Circus Mirror’. Lured by a heavy bass-centric opening, ‘Circus Mirror’ forays and rolls its audience through dissociated guitar chords, filtered vocals and ambience. It’s a brilliant combination of disconnected sounds to present an all-round feeling of longing and angst – especially with the lead’s provocative bursts through the waves that come reminiscent of Slowdive’s Rachel Goswell or Cocteau Twins’ Elizabeth Frazer.
‘Unpleasantly Tense’ presents the listener with the least distorted sound yet. There’s an acoustic guitar that again reminds me of Slowdive. This, in the sense of ‘Dagger’ – not in exact sound, but the way this more intimate and human audio brings us through the shrouded other world of the Loud Bangs and back to earth. Yes, heavy breathing and clipped sound bites do make for an ‘Unpleasantly Tense’ feeling in parts, yet on the whole, a pleasant dexterity is shown in the band’s ability.
Closer ‘Ex Doll’ is mellow in the EP’s conclusion. Through the sound journey of the given topic, we’re out the other side. Upbeat drums and light vocals bring about an aura of acceptance – acceptance to loving at a distance and maybe landing on a relationship defining decision. Floating techy keys float us out of The Loud Bangs’ realm. Admittedly, I’d love to return to see just what they do next.