The thing that most appealed to me about Balms was that the band understood how to modulate their sound. What I mean by that is that there seem to be a lot of groups who come out of the gate favoring volume, offering up feedback-drenched workouts that are clearly in debt to the first few waves of shoegaze classics. And, yeah, Balms crank it up effectively at times on Mirror, their debut LP that dropped yesterday, but they also understand tension, and dynamics, and how to create more than just ear-splitting noise.
A track like "I Feel Fine" roils and ripples, waves of big chords layered over purposely-rudimentary drumming, while "Dark Rider" immediately sees the boys here hit the pedals, the fuzziness nearly deafening for a few moments. The tunes owe as much to bits of late Sixties Floyd as they do to, say, Mogwai, with a selection like "Plane" even nodding in the direction of Disintegration-era Cure. To name-drop those acts is to attempt to get at the sound on this LP as there's real nuance here, despite the fact that it would be indeed easy to label a few of these numbers as proto-shoegaze. Still, with material as sharp and precise as "Setting Sun" in their arsenal, the sonic attack of Balms is sure to charm those looking for something like Loop, and those looking for something closer to Explosions in the Sky.
[Photo: Uncredited press pic]