I make no qualms about the fact that I love shoegaze music. Post-punk, cold wave, no wave…pretty much if there’s a wave or a gaze attached to the end then I’m in. These are sounds that evoke in me memories of a childhood that was filled with Betamax tapes, Kenner toys, Saturday morning cartoons, and the cold comfort of an analog synth. I didn’t find that comfort though till I was an adult and I started going back to those bands of my youth. The Creation Records folks, the 4AD goth kids, those early 80s Sire Records years, and of course those Factory Records sadsacks. The thought of some 8 year-old kid running around the living room playing with his X-Wing Fighter and Joy Division’s Closer running through the Pioneer floor speakers makes me smile. Just a little. That didn’t happen, but it still makes me smile.
[aftersun] are a band out of Brooklyn that sound decidedly not from Brooklyn. More like a band hailing from somewhere in Europe in the year 1982. If you listen closely to their new album, Always is Right Now, remnants of the Cure’s darkest period(Pornography) emerge, as does Ian McCullough and his Echo friends, circa Crocodiles. Granted, that’s just album opener “Born Again”. Pretty soon an even darker cloud emerges in “Last Night”. More of that distant Cure guitar wavers in the background, but there’s something more ominous in this track. The Soft Moon tread this water as well and it’s an area you only want to venture in if you can commit. If you don’t step fully into the darkness you end up looking like a clown. [aftersun] commit fully.
[aftersun] consists of Stephan Cherkashin(vocals, guitar, bass, programming, percussion, and general morosity), Adam Humphreys(guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals), and LeeAnn Falciani(vocals and general light to Cherkashin’s darkness). For a three-piece they fill every nook and cranny with sound; and a dark, grainy sound it is. Besides the Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen, bands like Joy Division, Bauhaus, and New York’s Suicide haunt this album. Never fully copied, but their influence is very much present in tracks like “We’ve Never Met”, “Drowned”, and “You Make Me Change”. Cherkashin has a calm vocal delivery that makes the songs almost more pensive, if that makes sense. Very reminiscent of Colin Newman, in particular his vocals on Wire’s 154, it’s very much in the cold wave style. [aftersun] take their time finding resolution in these tracks that make up Always is Right Now. The songs are generally long, but they never feel like they linger. They fade into the ether when they’re good and ready. While the songs are cut from a darker cloth, they’re quite beautiful. Album closer “Born To Die” feels like a funeral procession through some ethereal landscape. It’s dreamy, dark, and quite lovely.
Brooklyn’s [aftersun] have put out yet another great album filled with cold synths, stark programming, and a sleek darkness fans of the classic 4AD years will certainly approve of. Turn down the lights, light a candle, and let Always is Right Now overtake you, one song at a time.
7.8 out of 10