Band names rarely give much away in relation to their music, or indeed where their inspiration came from. Russian five-piece Pinkshinyultrablast on the other hand cover both bases in one elongated title, particularly on the influence side, being surprisingly nothing to do with a fully functional sex toy with added ejaculation feature but instead being named after an album by Astrobrite, a shoegazing noise pop ‘supergroup’ that first surfaced in 1994.
As for their sound, well that’s covered off nicely too. Singer Lyubov Soloveva doesn’t really sing that much, conventionally at least; vocals are more of an added instrument, a pinky-tinged, floating layer that glides above an icy soundscape in a similar way to Liz Fraser from Cocteau Twins managed – and there we have another major influence on the St Petersburg outfit. Guitars are straight from the Robin Guthrie school of dream pop shimmer too, all glittery and shiny in their sparkling delivery. And occasionally they delve into their self description of “thunder pop” for an ultrablast of noise.
So, with all the ingredients in place to step up and emulate comparative British acts from the late ‘80s early ‘90s such as Lush, My Bloody Valentine or the recently reformed Ride, are they any good or are they just a copycat late addition to the genre? Well, actually they’re not bad at all but, to be fair, they should have something interesting to offer by now, having formed over seven years ago with Everything Else Matters becoming their debut album years after the surfacing of their first EP, Happy Songs For Happy Zombies (check out the impressive Blaster). The album was recorded in 2013 but for various reasons such as lack of finances, mixing problems and logistical issues, it’s more overdue than The Rolling Stones’ retirement party.
The band have also changed direction since their formation, initially setting out to be a krautrock act. The shoegaze, dream pop crystallization has ultimately been arrived at due to disillusionment with a boring Russian indie scene. “We wanted to play something radically different,” they claim.
Single Umi had critics falling over themselves to shower the quintet with adulation; floating vocals appear after tinkling guitars and persistent drumming set a tempo creating a beautifully icy landscape largely dominated by the shimmering guitars and accompanying synths. Holy Forest is another pre-album release, a solitary twanging guitar then joined by a second before drum and bass join, leading to a plinky keyboard line, sweeping clouds of synths and dream like vocals – they’re sung in English rather than their native tongue but lyrics are indeed about as decipherable as Liz Fraser’s.
Elsewhere, album opener Wish We Were is a lengthy journey that weaves a path through echo-laden vocals, floaty synth chords, electronic percussion and stunning keyboard work that Jean Michel Jarre would be proud of before guitars burst into earshot, heavily reverbed (they like their fuzz pedals) and multi-layered. Album closer Marigold takes a slower route but the tempo change represents one of few deviations from the standard direction, and it can become a little intense when listening to the album in its entirety from start to finish. Melodies are abundant but offer little distinct definition, therefore the inevitable thoughts of ‘have we heard this one before?’ are likely to surface.
The band claim that the length of time the album has taken to arrive helped hone skills and the evidence to support their theory is plentiful; it’s a tough genre to make a lasting impression on primarily because guitars are somewhat limited as instruments, but the strong presence of electronica clearly makes a difference here where it is less evident in other shoegaze/dream pop acts. With a little more emphasis placed on creating catchy, melodious songs beneath the swathes of undeniably beautifully glimmering sound, this unlikely lot could end up ruling the world.