Review Summary: Am I misinterpreting the light you spill in me?
The Corey Coffman musical universe is growing at an alarming rate, and all we can do is gaze longingly into the ethereal abyss overtaking the sonic landscape. Many are familiar with his flagship project Gleemer and their towering influence on today’s shoegaze/emo crossover scene, but his work as a producer and mixing/mastering engineer is arguably even more impressive; the catalog he has compiled in 2022 alone is both prolific and remarkable. From his own band’s flawlessly engineered EP Here At All
to Bedlocked’s enchanting self-titled debut LP, the man has been on a creative hot streak that shows no signs of cooling down any time soon, and Soft Blue Shimmer’s Love Lives In The Body
serves as another exhibit of his aural brilliance.
From the moment Meredith Ramond’s reverb-soaked vocals cast a Lynchian glow over opener “First Breath Back”, it’s clear that the San Fernando Valley trio and Coffman are a match made in heaven. Not even the best producer in the world can make a subpar band sound transcendent, and the magnificent performances of Ramond, guitarist Charlie Crowley, and drummer Kenzo Cardenas allow Coffman to make the group’s output absolutely otherworldly at times. Early album highlights “Prism of Feeling” and “Cloudless” cast angelic lead lines over powerfully cutting drums and a healthy low end, while the energy level suddenly skyrockets on “9090” via Cardenas’s most animated performance, some welcome vocal interplay between Ramond and Crowley, and oceanic distortion. Love Lives In The Body
thrives when it dares to ratchet up the tempo, like on “9090” or the gorgeous “Strawberry Cool”, which juxtaposes its propulsive energy with dazzling half-time sections and a heavenly breakdown of a bridge. Whether Soft Blue Shimmer set out to attack or soothe, the entirety of the album is commendably atmospheric, a fact made possible in equal part by Coffman’s production, Crowley’s titanic guitar tones, and Ramond’s celestial vocal harmonies.
Unfortunately, there are small pockets of the record in which the gloss of the production can only carry the songs so far; the one-two punch of “Burden of Desire” and “Memory/Fantasy” comes to mind, two midtempo mezzo forte slogs that feel less like a soft blue shimmer and more like a faint blue blur. Given the homogeneity of the majority of the tracklist, the aforementioned uptempo numbers and later album highlight “Love Being” are welcome changes of pace, but they also make tracks like “Guayaba” feel much more disappointing by comparison. “Guayaba” isn’t necessarily bad
so much as it feels like an unfinished demo track, consisting of an ambient buildup, a steadily crescendoing verse, and a disheartening dissipation back into nothing after 2 short, anticlimactic minutes. The hazy warmth of Love Lives In The Body’s
production elevates the quality of every track, but it can’t disguise the weaknesses of an arrangement.
Thankfully, these weaknesses are few and very far in between throughout the record, and Soft Blue Shimmer and Coffman have collaborated to deliver us one of 2022’s premier nügaze releases. From Ramond’s initial sharp inhale to the crushing and encircling feedback that closes “End & Affection”, Love Lives In The Body
is an engrossing affair that is sonically spotless, instrumentally engaging, and occasionally truly brilliant. The future is certainly bright for Soft Blue Shimmer, and Coffman clearly knows how to bring the best out of them, so I eagerly look forward to whatever they team up to create next.