REVIEW by ZAK SLOMAN
Having impressed many on the underground music scene of their home city Los Angeles since forming in 2015, Small Planets have now brought out a self-titled debut album.
The five-piece spent eight months putting together this release, consistently honing a sound that is predominantly post-punk/shoegaze, but draws from an eclectic range of musical genres, resulting in 11 well-crafted but accessible tracks.
Every one of the songs that make up the quintet’s first full-length offers a truly unique listening experience, with lyrical content dealing mainly with both the positive and negative aspects of love, and a soft, melodic vocal delivery which conveys the varying emotions of the lyrics, and is rather reminiscent of Debbie Harry when Blondie were at the peak of their powers, being constant presences.
‘Drowning‘ is an effective opener, with a lengthy instrumental led by a haunting guitar riff which gradually becomes something subtly aggressive, which is then followed by ‘Breathe‘, which is an altogether catchier affair, with the sound accelerating in pace throughout, as well as a few classical elements thrown in, and listening to this, it reminds me of a jollier Joy Division.
‘Blue‘ has more of an alternative rock/grunge vibe, containing buzzing riffery, thumping drum beats, and anguished vocals, whereas ‘Say Something‘ is a dreamy, atmospheric The Cure-esque number which has a rhythm that seems to burrow its way into the listener’s head, along with sing-along lyrics.
‘In Life We‘ sees the Californian outfit going down a poppier route, with the song going along at a relatively gentle pace, which is followed by the synth-led post-punk track ‘Tonight‘, which deals with the subjects of death and regret.
The five-piece have been open about being influenced by The Cure and Joy Division, and the effect of those legendary bands is at its most obvious with seventh song ‘Twelve-Thirty‘, which sees the album at its darkest and most aggressive.
After this, ‘E‘ is altogether lighter, with a softer, more emotive sound, layered vocals that reach both high and low notes with relative ease, and lovely cello parts in the middle and at the track’s conclusion.
‘Waves‘ conjures up dreamy soundscapes with melodies that are abundant in strength, and electronic beats that are dominated by a drum machine, with ‘And Then She Said‘ basically being six minutes of the collective at their most complex and experimental.
Drawing the album to a close is ‘Small Planets‘, a number which has the listener being taken on a melodic journey of feedback and distortion, accompanied by an effective combination of classical, synths, and emotive vocals.
In the past, I have listened to some debut albums from bands and artists which have basically contained two or three brilliant tracks, with the rest being comprised of filler material, however, with ‘Small Planets‘, this is not the case, as this offering has clearly been crafted with much love and attention to detail, and is an effective showcase for a talented outfit who should have a bright future ahead of them.
TOP TRACK: ‘Breathe‘