is a record I like way more than I originally thought I would. Not because of my usual ‘genre X is dead bohoo’ mindset, though; slowcore is still pretty much alive and kicking. Sure, it’s not exactly mid ‘90s level of quality, but artists like Giles Corey or True Widow still manage to tackle the genre from different angles, and to great results. What’s less appeasing, however, is watching the genre’s flagship, Low spiral downward into mediocrity with each release, along with the bands mimicking them. Slowcore is a dangerous game to play, especially if you don’t have the right cards.
What ultimately plays in favor of Shores
is that they borrow from the right artist; choosing Codeine’s passive-aggressive, full-band approach over Low’s moody, intimate atmospherics. And although some of Leavening
faithfully harkens back to the golden days of Frigid Stars, Codeine’s undisputed masterpiece, very rarely does it settle for a mere copy of that material. It never could, anyway, for Shores
have an entirely different approach to depression; they do not welcome it, do not revel in it. They fear it, trying to fight it off with beauty that was rarely heard in the genre in the past. Luckily for them, their resistance falls on the right side of bombast; songs like the brooding ‘Hinges’ and ‘Windswept’ explode with soaring crescendos that escalate mostly in volume and texture (and the number of cymbal crashes), but never overstay their welcome. The opener ‘Chardonnay’ richly draws from Codeine’s trademark atonal sound, using unusually powerful, feedback-laden guitar and sparse instrumentation to lull you into a daze, only to yank you out of it in its soaring finale that exposes the band’s knack for creating powerful, yet soothing melodies. ‘Broderick’ is the only song that recalls the spirit of Frigid Stars in its whole beauty, constantly going through the motions via quiet/loud dynamics that accompany the vocalist’s slow croon. But mistaking Leavening
for a generic, ‘post rock’ version of Codeine’s back catalog is the last thing you want to do; Shores
have struggled with too much sadness to deserve just that.