New Audio: Two Shimmering Gems from Talinn Estonia-based Shoegazers Pia Fraus

Talinn, Estonia-based shoegazers Pia Fraus — currently comprised of founding members Kärt Ojavee (synths), Rein Fuks (guitars, vocals) and Reijo Tagapere (bass),  along with their returning longtime drummer Joosep Volk and newest members Eve Romp (vocals, synths, met allophone) — can trace its origins back to 1998, when the band’s founding sextet were all art school students. Since the band’s founding, they’ve gone to release five full-length albums and a handful of EPs of material that have cemented their sound — a mix of dream pop, shoegaze and electronica with layered male-female harmonies.

Slated for a January 20, 2020 release through Vinyl Junkie Records in Japan and Seksound Records globally, Pia Fraus’ John McEntire-produced sixth album Empty Parks was recorded at Nevada City, CA-based Soma Electronic Music Studios with album title track  “Empty Parks” being recorded in two separate kitchens, a windowless basement and Reijo Tagapere’s barn. “This is the poppiest album we’ve ever made. It’s melancholy and happy at the same time – definitely happier than our latest Field Ceremony album,” the band’s Rein Fuks says in press notes. “To work with John McEntire was my teenage wet dream.  I have been a massive fan of John’s work over the years, and I never thought that one day I have a chance to sit next to this guy and make my own record. Of course, it was quite challenging and stressful for me.”

“Although the process of making this album wasn’t been the easiest, I associate this album relates mostly with the feeling of happiness and positivism,” the band’s Eve Komp says in press notes. “The awareness of being able to be hopeful and make jokes about life even if everything seems to going downhill.”

The band’s Joosep Volk adds “Personally, Empty Parks means a lot. It’s sort of a homecoming to me. 16 years has past since I last played with the rest of the group and when Rein asked me to return, I never thought twice. Understanding that sometimes things do fall apart and you just have to pick yourself up and deal with it. Life is deviously clever, we just have to endure.”

Album single “Love Sports” is a decidedly upbeat song, centered around jangling guitars, propulsive drumming, ethereal male-female harmonies and soaring hooks. And while continuing their long-held reputation for meshing shoegaze and dream pop, “Love Sports” finds the band adding a bit of Flying Nun Records-like jangle pop — but with a subtly modern production. Album title track “Empty Parks” is a more contemplative and seemingly wintry affair, centered around layers of reverb-drenched, shimmering and  jangling guitar, hushed male-female harmonizing. Both songs are gorgeous and kind of bittersweet in a way that acknowledges what life really is: full of heartbreaking losses, minor victories, brief moments of transcendent beauty and all of its important and necessary.  We find a way to endure somehow — and that’s what matters.