Crystalline synth and electro beats glisten across Miserable Miracles'
surface, but it's an ultimately thin plane. The dense distortion found on their initial EP had slowly been waning with the release of each new record, and now we've arrived at the first Pinkshiny album completely free of it. This may suggest Miserable Miracles
is a more sincere side of the group, who could be feeling a bit naked and exposed without the staple shoegaze tactic of audio diversion. It does translate that sentiment nicely, as it's an almost intimate feeling to be seeing the band in this new light and confidence. And so it is unfortunate that the infinitely more sincere side of Pinkshiny isn't what it could have been. Perhaps nearly a decade of teasing built up imagination that could not match actuality. There's really nothing new that they are presenting here. Not that they are obligated to invent a new sound, they surely didn't with their stellar EP and debut album. But the problem with shedding skin is alienating fans of the past, and it leaves a heavy burden of doing it well enough to retain them. The unquestionable acknowledgment of the many dream and synth pop groups from decades ago certainly does offer some nostalgia and a great amount of credit to the band's self awareness, yet I can't help but feel detached from it all.
ditches the guitar in favor of the synthesizer. It’s more of a dream pop record than it is a shoegaze one, a case that can easily be made despite the blurred lines between the two genres. Lyubov sings in the forefront of the stage with the shine and gloss she has always had, this time more propped by keyboards and drum loops than ever before. She now sings with more assurance and lyrical clarity and remains one of the best vocalists of modern dream pop. Mostly based around moments of lucidity similar to 80s groups like Cocteau Twins, there are underlying notes of bubbly and whimsical adventure throughout the record. This is most noticeable in the playful second song “Triangles”, but can still be seen across the rest of the runtime. In contrast, the album has only a few moments of their usual dark rhythmic guitar, but shines a spotlight on its every appearance. Suppressing the strumming in favor of twinkly synth-pop effects make moments like the intermediate eruptions on “Loomer” stand out as adrenaline spikes to the heart. Yet they always seem to die off way too quickly and leave something left to be desired. This is a restrain and release dynamic that the band has had success with in the past, but there’s a definitive lack of substance throughout Pinkshiny’s sugar coated tapes that feels like more of a tease than anything else.
Sitting around the center of the album are two ambient tracks, “Blue Hour” and “Earth and Elsewhere”. They are solid world-building movements that do manage to place a sense of location on the rest of the more compact and modular songs around them. This juxtaposition of pop and ambiance, however, just highlights how much stronger the band is when they explore a particular vibe
, versus strapping together conventional melodies and flexing production prowess. Take for instance the awkward instrumental break that forces itself about a minute into “In the Hanging Gardens”. Coupled with a sort of irritating melody towards the start of the later third of the track, it does nothing but bring down the otherwise fantastic vocal and lyrical performance of the song. Lyubov's icy singing twirling into the strongest chorus of the album just to be choked out by everything else is just downright frustrating. Thankfully, “Eray's” oscillating spectacle a personal favorite of mine, one of the few instances where Lyubov 's voice properly dances and gleams with world around her in a satisfying unison. So at this point I think I've made it clear that there are truly some great elements at work despite the shortcomings. Because of this, I don't think Pinkshinyultrablast are fizzled out. There is clearly love and effort here, and perhaps they have a personal attachment with this naked sound after years of hiding behind a guitar. I really do hope this is just a huge step towards something much better though, despite it not being in the direction I’d hope for.