Despite it being their second album, Reveries feels like a brand new start for the Oslo based quartet Maribel. After their debut, Aesthetics, was released in 2009 they lit up the blogs with talk of a ‘shoe-gazing revival’. However, before the world could discover whether Maribel were a new My Bloody Valentine in waiting or not, they promptly split up.
Instead of ‘doing a Kevin Shields’ (otherwise known as locking one’s self in a studio for all eternity, and knocking out the odd Sofia Coppola soundtrack), Pål Espen Kapelrud quickly resurrected the band, drafting in two new members and recording the band’s second album, Reveries. The result is an album which, as you may expect, is heavy on the reverb-soaked guitar and dreamy vocals, but with a new dynamic, courtesy of new German singer Rebekka Markstein.
Reveries is a dark, spooky listen. For all the talk of Lana Del Rey providing lost David Lynch soundtracks, this is the real deal: eerie and sinister with a sense of foreboding. Close your eyes and you can almost imagine the nightclub in Twin Peaks, with Audrey Horne dancing in the corner.
At times, they come across like a more aggressive Mazzy Star, with Markstein sounding like the narcotically enhanced cousin of Hope Sandoval on marvellously titled tracks like Jezebel Jive and You Bring The Sadness. On Meow, she literally starts whispering seductively while guitars and percussion crash away in the background.
It’s that mix of light and dark that makes the album a success – Kapelrud has a knack for creating atmospheric, dark soundscapes, while Markstein’s vocals act as the sweetener. It’s shown to its best advantage on quieter tracks such as Pretty Nights or the aforementioned You Bring The Sadness.
Perfumed only ramps up the Lynchian effects, with its heavily echoed guitar a dead ringer for some of Angelo Badalamenti‘s work – the interplay between Kapelrud and Markstien’s vocals here work particularly well. There’s a real cinematic feel to this album which lifts Maribel above accusations of mere nostalgic bandwagon-hoppers.
As the pace of the album rarely varies, it’s inevitable that some tracks are less memorable than others. Yet at only nine tracks, it never outstays its welcome – the new incarnation of Maribel promises great, if slightly spooky, things ahead for the four-piece.