There’s a time and a place for this kind of thing. And if recent experience is anything to go by it’s here and it’s now. This year has seen all sorts of variations on dreamy, gauzy, dream-pop records, followed by endless passages referencing Slowdive and The Cocteau Twins and poking through the gables in the cathedrals of sound.
It isn’t an unpleasant phenomenon. The major thing in favour of most of these gauzy, dream-pop records (or at least the non-shit ones) is they generally do a pretty fair job of softening the cruel blows of reality with their fuzzy noise. Listening to them is like wearing a helmet of softly yearning vocals and guitars, off which anything hurtful or shocking or ugly will harmlessly rebound, leaving you floating along on gossamer wings with a beatific smile plastered across your face.
It is distracting. It is nice. It’s also a bit transient. There’s only so many times you can hear another sketched outline of a song, all soft-focus pastel shades smudging into each other to form amorphous outlines of sound, before you start wishing for the cold, hard slap of reality.
True isn’t a bad example of gauzy, hazy, synth-pop. It swoons where it should. Jorge Elbrect’s voice is happily pitched between soothing and borderline incomprehensible and there are some nice, melodic songs. The opening Totally True jangles along like The Cure‘s Friday I’m In Love, subtly flicking its fringe at the new-romantics skulking in the wings, and When To Let Go displays an exciting undercurrent of swirling ’60s psychedelic harmonies. You can appreciate them, but rather than hooking you excitedly in to see what happens next, you just get drawn into a hebetudinous state where people keep having to hold a mirror to your mouth to make sure you’ve not passed to the other side.
To be fair to Violens, there are a couple of slaps on here which do elicit a more energetic response. The instrumental Lavender Forces is the first, a rumbling minute and a half of bass which then breaks into the perky pairing of Unfolding Black Wings and All Night Low. Both of which are louder, more corrosive, more pointed and a much needed wake-up call.
But it’s a momentary stirring across an album which never really provokes you above a slumber. Maybe it’s familiarity, maybe it’s contempt, maybe it’s something to do with both, but there’s nothing on True which marks itself out distinctly enough for it to warrant more than a passing glance.