“The Acrobat” from the 2017 album of the same name.
I’m going a bit retro tonight, as least in terms of sound and sensation. This one’s called “The Absolute.” It’s the title track to the 2017 album of the same name, and it faithfully taps the tones and textures of the ’80s neon underground and alternative scenes. It comes from Philadelphia’s Death of Lovers, an act that’s fairly present, formed in 2013 out of mutual admiration for the stylish stylings of said bygone era.
Interesting, because Death of Lovers features members from two modern indie shoegaze acts, Nothing and Whirr, both of whom love their fountains of feedback and mountains of reverb. So to hear something that’s predominantly synth-heavy and sax-prominent is a bit of a scruffy headscratcher … not necessarily in a bad way … just a tad unexpected.
Death of Lovers seems to be channeling the synth rhythms of ’80s new wave and gothic rock, while alternatively exploring the nocturnal corners of minimalistic romanticism. I hear the term post-punk tossed around quite a bit with these guys. But to me, “The Absolute” feels more indebted to bands like A Flock of Seagulls, or maybe early Psychedelic Furs. There’s even a bit of The Cure floating around in there.
The music video even feels like something one of those influential bands might’ve produced back then. Maybe that’s the no budget, lo-fi style at work. But then again, maybe it’s a true admiration for the source.
If you go back to 2014, with their darker, moodier EP “Buried Under a World of Roses,” post-punk might make more sense. Plus, this material strikes closer in tone to their own original bands, Nothing and Whirr. The style is still ’80s influenced, but the sound is a touch richer in the guitars and bass department. And the synths are denser, reverberating with layers of echoing texture.
Check out the title track from that EP. This one reminds me of early Clan of Xymox or Sad Lovers & Giants, both notable entries in the time capsule of influential ’80s obscurities.
“Buried Under a World of Roses” from the 2014 EP “Buried Under a World of Roses.”
And another music video with a heavy tint of vintage stylings, so faithful it’s practically parody.
As mentioned, Death of Lovers comes from a joint venture between likeminded wall of sound shoegaze artists. Vocalist Domenic Palermo and drummer Kyle Kimball come from Nothing, while bassist Nick Bassett hails from Whirr. The fourpiece is completed by keyboardist CC Loo, who’s also Palermo’s girlfriend.
I’m going to bring up another track from their debut EP, titled “The Blue of Noon,” just because I really like it. It’s probably the closest sounding effort to Nothing. It’s got those ethereal whispers for vocals, some thick prominent percussion, and a guitar part that feels like it could explode into a waterfall of feedback at any moment. Of course, it never quite goes there, exercising restraint instead. In some ways, it reminds me of some of the raw demos I’ve heard from Nothing, which are far more stripped down affairs. But like I said, I just like this one.
“The Blue of Noon” from the 2014 album 2014 EP “Buried Under a World of Roses.”
I was going to end this post with “Orphans of the Smog,” which is a beautiful throwback to the “Seventeen Seconds” era of The Cure. But then I heard “Ursula in B Major,” which struck me as a curious homage, deliberate or not, to Echo and the Bunnymen‘s “Bring on the Dancing Horses.” So I’m going to wrap this up with both.
“Orphans of the Smog” from the 2107 album “The Acrobat.”
“Ursula in B Major” from the 2017 album “The Acrobat.”
Now that I’ve had a bit of Death of Lovers lovefest, I’m sort of kicking myself for not checking out their show last year at the Echoplex. I can’t remember why I didn’t go. But I definitely should’ve. These guys rarely tour as Death of Lovers, primarily sticking with their own respective main acts. That said, hopefully, they’ll kick out a new album in the future, with a subsequent new tour. Until then, enjoy these fine offers from Death of Lovers.