I love everything about this album. Everything, that is, but the name.
“Souvlaki” conjures images of restaurants with menus high above the counter and backlit with harsh fluorescent light, where greasy men slave over greasier frying ranges and the food’s all served in plastic baskets. It’s an earthy name, whereas this is an airy album.
There’s a collective word for this subgenre of music—shoegazer. Reportedly, the name came about because many of the bands had such little stage presence that they didn’t do much beyond playing their instruments and staring at their feet. Like “Souvlaki,” that name feels wrong, at least for this listener; this is very atmospheric music, not fast enough to evoke flight, but a perfect soundtrack for lying on your back and staring up at the sky.
The instrumentation’s ethereal and nebulous—even by shoegazer standards—but there’s a charging tension that holds it all together and gives it shape and substance. It’s like a sky made more interesting by clouds—or better yet, a sky whose clouds are capable of anything from silence to storms. (People tend to describe shoegazer music as druggy. I think much of it is sleepy—but in a beautiful way, like an afternoon nap outside in the summer.) “Sing” is pleasant and sedate, while “Dagger” evokes that early morning space between sleep and dawn, where the hushed whispers from your lover mingle with the echoes of your dreams. But there are also darker clouds, and the occasional rain squall. “Here She Comes” starts out with a pleasant name and peaceful tone, but the lyrics soon turn the calm interior into an icy lonely landscape. The opener, “Alison,” is charging and engaging, and “40 Days” builds like a summer thunderstorm until it brings forth bright beautiful flashes of guitar noise.
All in all, this is a damn near perfect album, a wonderful mood piece that sounds great on the first listen and stays with you thereafter. It is beautiful, emotional, inspired—in a word, heavenly.
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