It’s a seemingly difficult genre to master, mostly because of how limited the sound is, but if you can manage to strike a tune that’s both creative and sands away the smooth edges of the shoegaze twang, you’re doing well for yourself.
This is what British shoe shiners, Childhood, have managed to do with their debut record, Lacuna. Well, for the most part. The sound is fresh, it’s flirtatious and it completely strikes that delicate and knee weakening balance between groove and pop.
Yes, without a slither, shadow or fraction of a doubt, Childhood’s record is shoegaze. This is certainly the jiggling bones that construct the skeleton of their sound with inspiration clearly taken from the likes of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Tame Impala, Beach Fossils and the like. The distinction however, is that Childhoods sound is drenched with enough sonic umph to give hedgehogs and nameless doctors screwdrivers a run for their money. Childhood sound like a really refined DIIV played by people who clearly less experienced musicians. Still, anything like DIIV is absolutely a great thing. Lacuna is a wet dream of varying tones. The diversity of effects, the unwillingness be tied down and the desire to musically stretch a bit further speaks volumes to the immense creativity that defines Childhood’s catchy and indulgent tunes. The sounds these guys can develop are just smooth as silk. When at their best with tunes like ‘Blue Velvet’ and ‘Sweeter Preacher’, Childhood profit completely from the ability to steer away from the familiar and dwell in terrain rocky, poppy and swaying. It’s a fairly unique quality as the bands music shifts between almost head-bang style song writing into total swoon indulgence and then into theme music for romantic sunsets with coconut water and leis et cetera as guitars wale convincingly appropriate and drums keep a consistent, aptly melancholy beat.
The sound is lush, it’s understated and blissfully harmonizes what’s on the table in a way that is both foot stomping but repetitive and poppy enough to give some character to what is other wise a total drag of a genre. As much as the enthralling tonal sensation this band develops sending your through sonic black holes of psychedelic pop and that, credit must be given to Childhood for the diversity to their song writing. The desire to shake it up is without doubt the bands most inspiring characteristic and what makes Lacuna stand out most proficiently as Childhood rely on these other little aspects to give their tunes a bit more grounding. The overwhelming reluctance to be caged is definitely admirable as the band flirt with power chords, slow and harmonic ventures, and vocal triumphs that are seriously impressive. Essentially these guys can howl with the best of them while giving the shoegaze genre a bit of a polish.It is a bit lucky for the cool sounds they make because, musically speaking, there is still quite a lot of learning to be done. It’s fine for what it is but at the same time when listening to Lacuna you can’t help but wonder if the sound is the way it is because they simply can’t produce anything more complex. Instrumentally there is certainly some lacking, which is, at times, incredibly apparent. But not enough so to completely deter the overall casual stroll on the beach or riding in the wind vibe the band aim to construct.Along the same strain, while Lacuna does for the most part keep it fresh, that flavour does wane a bit towards the end of the album. By the albums remaining three tracks, the momentum severely declines as the band, presumably, have run out of things to sing as well as riffs and beats to play. Credit where credit’s due.
Childhood have done a fucking solid job of breaking the mould of shoegaze while adhering to pushing some boundaries and testing some waters. For this reason, Lacuna is well worth a listen because few albums can be complimented for such fierce and poppy song writing on their debut. There are dull and awkward spots for sure, but Childhood’s debut is a lot of fun and definitely worth a listen.
‘Lacuna’ is out September 26th via Popfrenzy