Review Summary: An unassuming summer soundtrack
Saccades is a side project of British musician Nicholas Wood, best known as a member of the wall-of-sound post punk group The KVB. Flowing Fades is Saccades’ second effort, following a self-titled release in 2017. While the debut marked a lighter, more indie-leaning departure from The KVB’s trademark style, Flowing Fades sees Saccades moving even further into the light. Dreamy, psych-tinged compositions are the order of the day, with sun-drenched, easily accessible melodies predominating. Flowing Fades does maintain a few connections to The KVB through the vital presence of synths and periodically darker lyrics.
Flowing Fades’ album artwork feels instructive. The color scheme suggests light and warmth, which evokes the summery vibes of the releases’ songs, while the portrayed edifice calls to mind an anonymous resort on the US southern gulf coast (or given Saccades’ European origins, some coastal getaway on the Mediterranean). This feels appropriate, both because Flowing Fades seems to stylistically be an ode to the summer, and because some of the album’s grimmer lyrical moments seem to ponder the inability of momentary hedonism to fulfill a meaningless existence.
The album consists of twelve songs adding up to just under forty minutes of runtime. The mostly short length of the tunes here works well with the material, as they are generally acceptably catchy but somewhat repetitive little numbers. In the few cases of tracks running longer than four minutes (for example, the closer “Lady Blue”), their welcome is sometimes sadly overstayed. There are a few highlights, notably the smooth opener “Islands Past”, which sees Saccades at their most Real Estate-esque, the shimmering “Like Everyday”, and the bouncy title track, but overall Saccades have crafted an easy-going work best taken in as a whole. The results are a sunny-day experience unlikely to offend any ears, but with enough moodiness to reward a closer listen.
All in all, Flowing Fades feels like a step forward for Saccades. The LP seems designed as a companion piece for summer escapism, and there are throngs ready for just such a style as the weather gets warmer and the world slowly emerges from the pandemic. Don’t expect a classic, but if a series of mellow and soothingly sunny tunes floats your boat, look no further.