L.A.-based experimental darkwave trio GLAARE bring a refreshingly fantastical sound to the shadowy side of postpunk with their new EP Surrender/Control. Featuring members of Deth Crux, Buried At Sea, and Black Mare, they combine gloomy guitar and nostalgic 80s synth with light, ethereal vocals for a unique sound easy to fall in love with upon first listen. GLAARE’s strength on this release does not rely solely on production value (which is indeed impressive), but rather in that one element of the music does not override the rest – the guitar, keytar, drums, and vocals all work together as equals to form an eerie yet whimsical work of art.
The opening track for which the EP is titled perfectly encompasses the feeling of the entire release; Rachael drawing you in with her haunting, dream-like vocals over somber guitar and flowing waves of synth. The creeping postpunk guitar would not sound unfamiliar on a Cure record. The vocals have a wide range, wavering in all the right places, with a shoegaze edge. There’s a perfect balance of melancholy and enchantment that is truly addicting about GLAARE’s sound.
If you aren’t sold on them by the first track, you will be by track two, “First Rain” (my personal favorite as a Portland native). The melody is catchier than the opening track, although it maintains that chilling moodiness. The songs on this album are truly fitting for a rainy day; the atmosphere within the music is isolating and sad. The EP appears to be inspired by Iceland (track 3, “SIDUMULI,” is named after a place in Iceland), which explains why the EP feels so cold. The echoing vocals and the fade-out between tracks also help to give it that somber feeling, although the melodies are catchy enough to where you can be in any mood to listen.
G L A A R E // I C E L A N D pic.twitter.com/AvpFKk26wR
— Glaare (@glaaremusic) July 22, 2016
“SUFFER” features my favorite synth beat on the whole EP; it manages to sound both cute and sophisticated at once. The ghostly vocals give the song a fairy-tale feeling. The final track, “Isky,” has the most experimental sounding synths on the EP (skirting the lines of noise), yet it remains smooth and gives the song a powerful, spooky vibe. Excellent choice for the ending track, as it’s the most addicting on the EP and leaves you pleading for more.
Dark, brooding riffs alongside soft, poetic vocals with a pensive attitude. What’s not to love?