Central Pennsylvania soundscapers Vicious Blossom continue to impress us with their finely-honed command of dreampop and shoegaze atmospheres on the new EP You Breathe Inside Of Me. Released earlier this month via Somewherecold Records, it’s a turbulent ride through themes of desire, loss, and regret; one that uses an icy sheen of reverb and brittle distortion to disconnect from pain and drown in beauty.
Three of the EP’s seven tracks are instrumental, beginning with the driving kick drum pulse of “Luminous,” where frontperson Nate Zerbe’s wordless vocals sprint alongside a bright lead guitar melody. Later, we get the fleeting snapshots of”Starlight,” a minute and a half of warped and warbling tremolo guitar that dissolves into static (this album’s “Touched” if you will), and “Middle Creek Wildlife Management Area,” a snippet of Fripp-Eno-esque phase experimenting.
Though the instrumentals are certainly emotionally evocative, the lyrical songs pack the greatest punch — if we’re willing to join Zerbe at his most intimate and confessional. “May” is full of waves of sound and feeling, beginning with a raw admission up top: “when you used to sleep next to me / you gave my life a sense of meaning.” That candor continues on “Carrie,” where Zerbe sings “I used to hold you close to me / now I cling to your memory” as the song rides a dirty, descending bass groove reminiscent of Manchester faves Doves. Zerbe’s voice is moody, often monotone, and beckons from the middle distance; if we want, we can journey inward towards its cries, and bear witness to the pain and ennui at the core of Vicious Blossom. Or we can stand on the periphery and simply hear some remarkably beautiful music.
The only song in this set that misfires is “Goth Girl,” which navigates complex variations in chords and keys, while sharing the album’s most frank and sexually provocative imagery. Which could be impressive, even important — especially its verses about breaking out of the gender binary — but with lyrics like “take me to your room, lay me on the bed / give me love, give me head,” it’s mostly too heavy-handed to completely work. (Sick beat on this one, though.)
The closing “Slowdown” returns to the earlier portrait of a sorrowful romantic obsessive, and at seven minutes long, it’s a classic shoegaze epic blowout finale. The song circles in a flanger haze, rises and falls to tripped out notes, and creates an immersive mood for Zerbe’s narrator to lay blame at the feet of their estranged love and lay blame on themselves in equal measure, uncertain by the end of it all what attaining happiness is even like. The tones are remarkable and the playing isn’t overly complex, allowing the fervent sound to soak into you; that’s an approach Breathe as a whole takes, and with the exception of a soaring guitar solo on “May,” the album steers away from the virtuosic in the interest of making a more direct impact with the understated.
On the album, Zerbe is joined by bassist, guitarist, and percussionist Ben Roth; bassist and guitarist EJ Hagen (who also recorded the album in his home studio, as well as at Lancsaster art space The Kaleidoscope); and drummers Jon Boy and Joe Fuscia. Listen to You Breath Inside Of Me below, or order it here, via Somewherecold here.
Tags: Vicious Blossom