Although they’ve gone through a series of lineup changes and are currently constituted as a duo featuring its founding members and primary songwriters Jesse Crowe and Josh Korody, the Toronto, ON-based indie rock duo Beliefs have released two well-regarded full-length albums over the course of their seven years together — 2013’s self-titled debut and 2015’s Leaper; but the band can trace their origins to a shared love of late 80s and early 90s noise pop and shoegaze. Interestingly, the Canadian duo’s forthcoming third full, length effort Habitat was produced and engineered by the band’s Josh Korody and mixed by Holy Fuck’s Graham Walsh, who’s also mixed albums by Preoccupations, Alvvays and METZ, and features Leon Tahenny, who’s played with Austra, Death From Above 1979 and Owen Pallet on drums, finds the band completely destructing, remaking and remodeling their self-conscious shoegazer-like origins in pursuit of an uncompromising new sound in which the duo has stopped being defined by the sum of its influences and finds their own unique voice and sound — and that period can often be one of most exciting and pivotal periods for a band. “I hope that’s the case,” says Crowe. “That’s always how I feel about bands, too – when you listen to something and it seems like it’s leading to a whole other element of a band, when you feel like you’re in the hallway about to open the door to a whole other space that this band is creating. And I hope that that’s what happens with us. We have no real plans at this point. We don’t want to be a ‘shoegaze’ band anymore.”
Interestingly, Habitat was the first time that the band’s founding duo had written an album together, and as Crowe continues, “and we wrote 80% of it in a room in four days wth no previous material. It’s as spontaneous as can possibly be” — with material being derived from extensive jam sessions. Adding to the spontaneous nature of the material, the album was recorded and tracked in 16 days and was recorded with no grand design or plan at play; however, interestingly enough the material manages to be influenced by each individual member’s unique interests and obsessions while gravitating towards unfamiliar instruments and instrumentation. Lately, Korody has had an increasing interest in modular synths and avant industrial sounds, partially influenced by his solo recording project Nailbiter while Crowe had been listening to a great deal of 90s hip-hop — in particular, Portishead’s Third. “It’s a dark record, for sure,” Crowe says of their new album. “I feel like we were drawing a lot more from, like, me being a Goth teenager and Josh only wanting to listen to Aphex Twin and me only wanting to listen to Portishead’s Third for the last year and stuff like that. But also it was time to embody the elements of being a ‘wall-of-sound’ band with some space and the idea of being able to be quiet when you should be quiet, and you can’t do that with three guitars. There’s no space. It just becomes all push and no pull.”
Habitat, the band’s third full-length effort is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through Hand Drawn Dracula Records and Outside Music and the album’s latest single “1994” is reportedly a sort of sequel to Leaper’s “1992” and is a sleek and atmospheric track featuring ominously cascading synths, shimmering and angular guitar chords and propulsive drumming — and while allowing enough room for Crowe’s husky vocals to float and dart around the mix, the track sonically reminds me of Xiu Xiu, Antics-era Interpol, and others but with an eerily spectral vibe; as though the track was possessed by the lingering ghosts of one’s life. And they manage to do so within a song that eschews discernible or traditional song structures; in fact, much like Antics, the song is focused on creating and sustaining a particular mood than whether a chorus should be placed in a particular part of the song or not.
Produced and edited by Christopher Mills, the video features Crowe and Korody performing in a dark room cabaret style –but the video manages to bear the appearance of old VHS tape, as it possesses a grainy quality in between cuts, nodding at the quality of the video for “1992.”