The December Sound
The Silver Album


4.5
superb

Review

by TheSpaceMan USER (40 Reviews)
August 31st, 2016 | 160 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: For years the word “shoegaze” brought with it the mental image of pink; perhaps you never noticed the silver in there too.

Early on in its new millennial revival, shoegaze had begun to separate itself from its 1st wave counterparts. We saw it embrace contemporary sounds and digital recording techniques, forcibly branching away from the distinctive alternative rock and pop roots of its origins and succumbing to more modern fads such as indie or post rock. So when a band in 2007 managed to homogenize the classic sound with the more contemporary, it offered a welcome marriage of an unnecessary divide. The Silver Album, notably as a debut, accomplishes this almost effortlessly with an aggressive and sleek throwback to its own roots while taking full advantage of the age it was crafted in.

The Silver Album feels very concealed and depressive throughout its entire run-time, focused on bathing itself in a melancholic vibe. The distortion and reverberation are as prevalent as you'd expect from an aggressive shoegaze album; repetition and droning disconnect from reality are staples of every song, providing no escape from the effects the band can put you under. This is probably one of the harsher sounding albums of its kind seen in god knows how long, without actually forsaking its enjoyment to prove that point. Yet despite how grating these Jesus and Mary Chain-like guitars can initially feel, they are very simplistic and easy to grab hold of, eventually succumbing to a sort of decadent support around the singing and leading guitar effects. It truly is palatable to a first time listener of any song. Once you are able to see through the grinding instrumentation you notice the pop elements are always there, constantly gasping for air beneath the rest of the mix. The Silver Album truly is sinister in the way it smothers the twinkles and glitter with raw and grinding rhythms. It's refreshing, in a most masochistic way, to hear the genre pummel you with its lethal abrasiveness once again.

Yet the record still feels genuinely fragile and feminine through its dream-pop tendencies, offering a welcoming and almost romantic attachment to those who give it a chance to reveal its more naked attributes. The most obvious contributor to this are the vocals, as they are integral to the design of the record. Soft, mumbled and very feminine sounding, they succeed in applying the tried and true tactic of the genre; the angelic whispers that are a necessary to offset the extreme audio harshness surrounding them. And while this has almost become a requirement for these kind of bands, The December Sound utilize the melodies of these near lyricless vocals to their fullest to create a human instrument effect. Something that, again, had been mastered years ago but rarely replicated as perfectly in this day and age. The melody of the singing is strong enough to be considered lead in the mix but quiet enough to be absolutely buried in the rhythms engulfing it.

There are undeniable, but very intentional, similarities to a certain shoegaze record from '91 to be found here. But before you write this off as a complete MBV clone, acknowledge that its similarities are more of an awareness of what worked for the 1st wave of shoegaze while expanding on that sound and reforming it fit in the new millennium. One thing that helps differentiate The Silver Album from others of the past is its intelligent embrace of space rock. A very notable example of this is the song “Drone Refusenik”, a definite highlight of the album. With its beautifully hypnotic and somewhat oriental guitar lead dancing alongside echoing vocals, the graceful subtlety is a necessary chance to to let the mind breathe. I dare say it is one of the strongest songs in entire genre, and one any fan should be willing to offer their ears to. The reason this space rock style fits so naturally in this setting is found when tracing the genre's roots. Bands often viewed as quintessential to neo-psych and space rock played a heavy and very underestimated influence in the formation of shoegaze, and The Silver Album seems very aware of this by adopting many of these bands' distinct styles. By recognizing its heritage the album sonically traces itself back to what kick started it all, which is why having such a defining characteristic feels so successful.

Being released in 2007, the album was afforded very nice digital production values that allowed it to blend its layers remarkably well. The recording sounds as if the music was played in absolute suspension, with sound reverberating off into a seemingly massive recording chamber around them. You can almost hear distance in the music as if sounds are drifting from around corners or sneaking up from behind you. There is also a larger incorporation of digital effects then would be found on most 90's records. Synths and dense keys are often added beneath the rhythms to negate any silence and obviously don't feel dated in the slightest, and samples are used to add depth, albeit sparingly. The incredibly infectious “Kill Me (Before I Kill You)” utilizes a nice contemporary dance beat beneath its sliding guitar drones to a brilliant effect, blurring the lines between rave and rock.

This LP was an absolutely necessary revisit to the classic sound of its genre, without ignoring what the rest of the music scene had been doing in the years since. If there was ever anything to take away from this review, it would be just that; consider it the restate of the hidden thesis statement of my bloated introduction. The Silver Album manages to simultaneously sound modern and vintage, while remaining unique even beyond those characteristics. A hidden gem in the alt rock world, and highly recommended.

4.8/5



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user ratings (50)
4.3
superb

Comments:Add a Comment 
TheSpaceMan
August 31st 2016


12346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

shout out to Avon who showed me this album a few years back

the reviews a bit long but thats cause I had a lot of fun talking about it, its become one of my favorites

IronGiant
September 1st 2016


1637 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"There are undeniable, but very intentional, similarities to a certain shoegaze record from '94 to be found here"



if you're referencing Loveless, it came out in '91

TheSpaceMan
September 1st 2016


12346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

lol thanks man, don't know what I was thinking when i typed that



edit: fixed

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
September 1st 2016


42580 Comments


good review spacebro might have to check

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Ghosteen

TheSpaceMan
September 1st 2016


12346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks jack, if you ever do definitely try the song Drone Refusenik its got to be one of the best shoegaze songs ever and pretty immediate too

Mr. Pain
September 2nd 2016


17495 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Great album bump

TheSpaceMan
September 3rd 2016


12346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

its incredible how low key amazing this is

Chortles
November 20th 2016


21430 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

tbh Maker sounds like a shoegaze version of tv eye by the stooges



which is a good thing

TheSpaceMan
November 20th 2016


12346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Would verify if I knew the stooges ): but maker goes hard!!

hal1ax
January 20th 2017


14018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

good review

i should prob check this out

UndineParty
January 20th 2017


707 Comments


is this a good album to look at my shoes to?

TheSpaceMan
January 20th 2017


12346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

thanks hal1 I think you'd dig, serious contender for the best gaze album oat esp if you dig the Loveless side of the genre (who doesnt??)

TheSpaceMan
January 20th 2017


12346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

And lol six those 1s are clearly the same guy, I blamed snake cuz of the coheed 5s

TheSpaceMan
January 20th 2017


12346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

lol thats so uncharacteristic of you!

TVC15
January 20th 2017


10233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Fires up the neurons and makes you think doesn't it

Digging: Lycia - A Day in the Stark Corner

Mr. Pain
January 20th 2017


17495 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0







TheSpaceMan
January 20th 2017


12346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

whoa chill bro

theBoneyKing
January 20th 2017


17447 Comments


This sounds cool, might czech

Digging: Sun Kil Moon - Ghosts of the Great Highway

TheSpaceMan
January 20th 2017


12346 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

wont have that southern twang but lemme know if you do, most of these songs are unbelievably good

TVC15
January 20th 2017


10233 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Country and shoegaze honestly sounds kinda cool



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