For Tracy Hyde
Ethernity


3.3
great

Review

by it's almost surreal how much i hate you STAFF
February 21st, 2021 | 29 replies


Release Date: 02/17/2021 | Tracklist

Review Summary: "Hey, are you still making that B-movie...?"

I’ve never fallen in love with For Tracy Hyde. One of the bands of the moment in some circles, they’re essentially a case study of several of the things the pop arm of J-indie tends to do really well: expansive shoegaze tones, exuberant female vocals, and more reverb than you can botox a yokai with. Their last two albums New Young City and He(r)art were both good on a number of levels, but barring a handful of highlight tracks, they suffered from bloated tracklists, largely recycled songwriting patterns, and a shortage of highlights. Every second chance I gave them only seemed to confirm that while the band were riding on a great sound, they couldn’t write memorable songs to save their life. But there was promise and - more importantly - shiny, pretty melodic textures galore; for all their take on the album experience was unfocused and homogenous, I always felt that if For Tracy Hyde got their act together and plotted out a coherent journey rather than an endless reiteration of the same above-average dream pop song, they could deliver something really impressive.

That’s almost how Ethernity turned out. On the face of it, this is the first time the band have written an album proper; all these tracks bear a distinct relation to one another, and they live and die largely on their own terms. They do not sound the same and are not mutually interchangeable; praise be. The band have finally untangled the strands of exuberance and bittersweetness that underpin their sound, articulating each in its own space. The run of the wistful “The Nearest Faraway Place” through “Orca”’s fleeting gazehaze into the peppy rocker “Sister Carrie“ is a textbook showcase of this, but it runs through the whole album. Nice. To sweeten the deal, it retains all the elements that made the band so appealing to begin with: “Interdependence Day (Part I)”, “Radio Days”, “Desert Bloom“ and “Heavenly” are borderline perfect snapshots of their core sound, trading off jangle pop, shoegaze and power pop against one another with veteran seamlessness and landing instant highlights. Things are up a level even from their previous bests “After Dark” and “Mizu to Nemuru”, thanks to vocalist Eureka’s performance; she’s stepped up big time, now driving the songs on an even footing with her bandmates’ dreamy swirlforce. All things considered, this is For Tracy Hyde’s least forgettable and most adventurous outing to date; frankly, it has no business not being their best record.

Well, okay there. There’s an issue here: the band’s gorgeous soundscapes are as thoroughly cinematic as ever, but thanks to frequent instances of disjuncture, the bigger picture here isn’t a particularly coherent one. They were clearly drawn to a more snapshot approach to songwriting, and the results are awkwardly piecemeal at times and hilariously wayward at others; despite being built from literally the most inoffensive styles of music in existence, Ethernity some manages to set off a grade-A whut moment every other track. Some of these are ballsy (dropping a country-styled blissout complete with American vocals and banjo twang on “City Limits”); some are endearingly off-whack (kicking of with a liberal cover of the Twin Peaks theme and parenthesising it (Theme For Ethernity); most are bemusing in a neither-here-nor-there way (pasting Obama’s Fourth of July speech to an instrumental entitled “Interdependence Day (Part II)” and following it with a premium slice of underbaked J-kitsch in “Welcome to [****ing] Cookieville”). The first few double-takes are prime material for good grins and easy fun, but by the end of the album you’ll be wishing this thing could just hit its damn stride and stay there for a couple of tracks. Every time I try to draw dots between these songs and their changes of tone, I end up with more questions: is this a full concept album, and if so what about the narrative begged for this kind of structuring (and, it bears repeating, why the Twin Peaks theme)? How did the grunge slugger “Chewing Gum USA” even make it on here? Where did the ultracheese of “Where the Slowboat Goes”’ triumphant saxophone come from? What, for the love of all things sweet and shiny, did anyone do to deserve the lyric California koibito-tachi no kuni stuck in their head? Oh, and that album art? Yeah.

Whether or not Ethernity makes any sense as an album is beyond my qualifications to determine (read: it absolutely doesn’t). Whether or not it’s a worthwhile listen is an easier matter: where For Tracy Hyde were once synonymous with take-it-or-leave-it indie shimmer, here they have something for everyone. It might be a celebration of disjointedness, but it's impressive enough at its best and passable enough at its worst to be worth scavenging from; anyone accustomed to picking through uncontoured dream pop or shoegaze albums en masse might even find this refreshing. I think that the band are ultimately a fair bit stronger for having made this record, but if it’s convinced me of one thing, it’s that I no longer trust my read on their artistic sensibilities in the slightest. As long as they can keep their reverb sparkly and their melodies sweet, I guess that’s beside the point. Fingers crossed they keep chasing that bliss. Maybe they’ll find it one day. Bet.



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user ratings (11)
3.5
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2021


38770 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I tried to googletranslate the quote at the end of para #3 but my laptop cringed itself to death and I had to publish this off a payphone. Fuck.

This is apparently my 200th review. I promise the next one will be good.

LISTEN: https://open.spotify.com/album/50vJHtZI95zHU1zqjAsVu8?si=Me--m9W5QAuUfHF9syq1cA

parksungjoon
February 21st 2021


33075 Comments


land of lovers more like land of liberal college hipster soyboys amirite

Digging: Morgoth - Feel Sorry for the Fanatic

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2021


38770 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Oh damn, interesting - are we reading it Calfornia: koibito-tachi no kuni or California-koibito-tachi no kuni? in my head it was the latter one, but your take is a little bit less bad

ResidentNihilist
February 21st 2021


2129 Comments


We all know the real reason you don't like this is because of colton

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2021


38770 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Colton plz 5 this immediately so that this comment can be correct^

parksungjoon
February 21st 2021


33075 Comments


a coalful weighs a ton

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2021


3165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice checking this rn

edit: fixy fixd

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2021


38770 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

delet!!! my back is sore!! fix'd !

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2021


45427 Comments


is The Nearest Faraway Place a Beach Boys cover or nah

always wanted to hear that tune with vocals tbh

Digging: Adjy - The Idyll Opus (I-VI)

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2021


38770 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

oh shit i dunno (plz confirm!), odds of Colton 5ing just went right up. that song is v much not a highlight imo

Rowan5215
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2021


45427 Comments


bet

I have to be up for work in 6 hours and my headphones are off so I will confirm for you somewhere between *checks notes* 1 day to 3 years

ResidentNihilist
February 21st 2021


2129 Comments


It will happen and then you'll have to 1 it to even it out otherwise you'll tear a hole in the universe

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2021


38770 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I am in the same position as Row, albeit on headphones but also on ipod :[ gonna get to the bottom of this and slam down some hard rates!

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
February 21st 2021


3165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

yep okay this is a weird thing lol. i'm like kinda '..anyone accustomed to picking through uncontoured dream pop or shoegaze albums en masse might even find this refreshing' but also just so many weird choice and that obama.. feature.. cracked me tf up

Colton
February 21st 2021


10854 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

why is there an Obama feature on this Japanese dream pop album lol

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 21st 2021


38770 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

We will never know unless someone confirms whether or not there is also a Beach Boys cover lol

Colton
February 21st 2021


10854 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

it's some kind of bizarre reimagining of a Beach Boys song that you probably wouldn't know is a "cover" if you didn't see the title. The original is an instrumental. Actually very odd

JohnnyoftheWell
Staff Reviewer
February 22nd 2021


38770 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

lmao, that is weird but entirely on brand for this album

instantradical
February 22nd 2021


337 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It's hard to disagree with the gist of this review, but for me, the best parts of this record absolutely swallow up the weird things about it. Interdependence Day I, Radio Days, Desert Bloom, Heavenly, and especially Sister Carrie are all outstanding and probably will be among my top ten songs by any artist this year. The problem is that it feels more like a collection of songs than a cohesive album, which was also an issue with New Young City. You get the impression that they sit down and think, let's make a wistful dream-pop song, let's make a grunge song, let's make a really badass Swervedriver tribute (Desert Bloom), and so on, without worrying too much about how it's all going to go together.



I think if you took the best songs from Ethernity and New Young City and mixed them into one album it'd be a 5.0 for me.



I actually think He(r)art suffers the most from inconsistency. The best songs on it are awesome but I don't like the slick pop and electronic-inspired elements on it.



By the way, I hated City Limits in the album trailer but actually kind of like the full song. It feels like they heard Gleemer's Not Around and thought, let's do a song like this, but MORE.

JesperL
Contributing Reviewer
February 22nd 2021


3165 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

okay i doubt i will every listen to this album as an album again but some of these tracks will make great additions to playlists lol

"It feels like they heard Gleemer's Not Around and thought, let's do a song like this, but MORE." this is a quality observation haha



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