Review Summary: A more melancholic The Cranberries meeting head on with Slowdive. A masterful display of shoegaze, post-rock, alternative, and darkened dream pop.
For the past year and a half or so I’ve slowly been growing away from heavy metal in favor of mostly indie rock and calming instrumental music. I assume it’s because I’m not as angry as I once was. Don’t get the wrong impression though, I’m not hanging up my two inch thick spiked shin guards and leather pants up yet no matter how much of a pacifist I become. I’m just broadening my horizons for a clearer mental state of mind and with my latest discovery “Different Shade Of Beauty” from Tearwave, I don’t think I’ll be going awol anytime soon. Hailing from New York, Tearwave is a band I just recently discovered. Indie rock at the heart of the music, Tearwave construct a sound of their own by assembling together mid 90’s flavored shoe gaze, dream pop, post-rock, and alternative with a gothic hue resembling a darker The Cranberries meets Slowdive circa mid nineties. Driven by the ethereal female vocals of Jenn Manganiello, “Different Shade Of Beauty” is bolstered by fluid musicianship bringing everything from lush piano runs, expressive acoustic passages, and lush post-rock crescendos to the table without a moments hesitation.
One of the main draws to this band lies in the hands…er…the vocal chords of charismatic front woman Jenn Manganiello. Vocally, Jenn sounds influenced by two of the greatest bands in the alt rock/indie genre. Namely The Cranberries and Slowdive. Rachel Goswell and Dolores O Riordan’s characteristic singing styles can be felt through Jenn’s heart warming croon. That’s not really giving her enough credit because although being influenced by these two singers her voice sounds distinctly like her own. You can just feel yourself fading into the background blissfully as her vocal melodies echo throughout your ears and mind. Not sure about the blissfully part because with song titles like “Shattered Fairytale”, “Ripped Apart”, and “Love Only Makes Me Weak” the music sounds awfully bleak and melancholic in comparison. Regardless, Jenn is one of the most intriguing vocalists that I’ve heard in quite some time and this blackened emotion only makes the music that much more in depth.
Doug White, the band’s lone guitarist and keyboardist is another significant factor to why the album is so captivating. Diversity is obviously key for the man as he plays in a variety of formats and styles to keep the music fresh and engaging. The despondent acoustic balladry of “Under The Milk Way’ is oddly complemented by the Oriental themed “Forgettable Name” and the surprisingly guitar/ bass heavy dream pop of “Question”. His synthesizer contributions are just as dynamic as the guitar in providing richly textured arrangements. Ominous keyboard lines, sparse piano runs and freak out psychedelic moments perfectly meld with the reverb laced yet squeaky clean production. I have no complaints so far with this record. The vocals, guitars, production, and synthesizers are all brillianty performed so now on to the rhythm section.
The drumming patterns courtesy of John Stephanski are delivered in a slow and rhythmic manner. Since the atmosphere of “Different Shade Of Beauty” is generally mellow and somber, I’ll have to go out on a limb here and say little is more. A few thundering fills can be heard in the few tempo shifts that rise to occasion. And according to Barney Stinson season 1 episode 11 “The Limo” music should be all rise and no fall. Well, not on this occasion Barney. Before closing out the night I must say i really like the bass tone of this album. Constantly grooving and providing a nice floor end, Joe Villella consistently makes his presence known.
Musically speaking, “Different Shade Of Beauty” is just about as perfect as a record can get. Spot on vocals, incredibly varied musicianship, passionate lyrics, and inspired songwriting make this one record that people need to acquire immediately regardless of what scene or preferred style of music they currently enjoy. However, the number of tracks, seventeen, and the duration of over seventy minutes of material seem sort of overblown for the casual listener. But since Sputnik consists of several Godspeed You: Black Emperor, Opeth, and Pink Floyd fans this really shouldn’t be a problem. So…check “Different Shade Of Beauty Out” and tell me what you think.