Elastic Sleep – Leave you EP (FIFA/Big Tea Records)
Words: Conor O’Toole
The debut EP from Cork band Elastic Sleep finds them straining at the leash of the shoegaze tag, and producing some memorable tunes in the process.
You’ll likely have come across the title track and earlier single already, a thumping, radio-friendly wall of sound (the sort you wouldn’t begrudge commercial radio for), with a satisfyingly double-edged chorus line (“I’m getting ready to leave you”) and some lovely prismatic guitar work.
The floating, ethereal voice of Muireann Levis will get plenty of plaudits (and rightly so; like, say, Julee Cruise, she sounds like she could kill you softly with just a few – beautiful – words of love). Just as important though are the monster rhythm section – I particularly dig the bass sound – and brilliantly sculpted guitar textures.
My own favourite moments on the EP though are the ones that leave shoegaze trailing in the rear-view mirror.
Check the restraint, for example, on ‘Deep and blue’ which skilfully holds the suspense for close to three minutes before offering any hint of catharsis. There’s a management of the emotional arc of a pop song at work here which suggests this band can go on and prosper in any number of fields.
Then we must speak of the utterly beguiling ‘Splish’, a superior psych-pop cut on an ambling groove which drifts in and out of consciousness, following an obscure yet ingenious chord sequence and featuring stunning counterpointed vocal layers. It’s like Stereolab slowed down majestically to walking pace; like that band it also brings to mind the wide-eyed 60s dreams of The Free Design, albeit shrouded in a dreamy, gorgeous fog. (I must say I love the fact too that it has a guitar line with wobbly chorus effect cranked up to 10…I might be alone in this.)
Closer ‘Stay’ immediately recommends itself with some mouth whistling, a clip-clop drum machine and gentle major seventh chords, a combination which, quite frankly, the world of pop music can never have enough of. In just over 2 minutes, there’s even room for a bridge with a humming drone and sinister synth line. Along with the pleasingly dislocated vocals, this all makes for a distinctly unsettling atmosphere, suggesting the soundtrack to the next cult psychological horror film.
So yes. Shoegaze? A little bit. Creativity and ambition? Lots of that. With buckets of pop nous and songcraft.
And a band with tunes – we love that.
4th Triskel Arts Centre, Cork w/Fears (Cork EP launch)
10th Pine Lodge, Myrtleville
14th The Workmans Club, Dublin supporting The Octopus Project
15th Cobblestone Joes, Limerick, supporting The Octopus Project
16th DeBarras, Clonakilty
17th Bello Bar, Dublin w/Galants & Segrasso (Dublin EP launch)
6th Roisin Dubh, Galway, support TBC
14th Bare in the Woods Festival, Laois