Belgian shoegazer outfit Slow Crush — currently Isa Holliday (vocals, bass), Jelle Harde Ronsmans (guitar), Jeroen Jullet (guitar) and Frederik Meeuwis (drums) — exploded into the international shoegaze scene with the release their full-length debut, 2018’s Aurora. Between 2018 and 2020, Slow Crush supported the album with nonstop, relentless touring across the world with acts like Pelican, Torche, Soft Kill, and Gouge Away — and with festival stops at Roadburn, ArcTanGent, 2000Trees and Groezrock.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the members of the Belgian shoegazer outfit was forced to cancel plans for two European tours and a Stateside tour at the last minute. But interestingly enough for the band, the pandemic was a bit of a curse and a bit of a blessing: The time off from touring allowed the band a period of time to re-think and re-group. Aurora‘s unexpected success and the demands of heavy touring had taken a toll on everyone’s personal lives. This was intensified with a massive lineup change, which saw two members leave. Eventually Holliday and Ronsmans recruited the band’s newest members Julioet and Meuwis to complete the band’s second lineup. And adding to a stormy period of change and uncertainty, the band’s label Holy Roar Records collapsed, leaving the band without a home.
Slow Crush’s sophomore album Hush was released earlier this year through Quiet Panic. Written in between tours and the unexpected downtime during pandemic-related restrictions and lockdowns, the album’s material is heavily influenced by turbulent times — both personal and global. While further cementing their sound, featuring abrasive and whirling layers of guitars and thunderous drumming paired with Holliday’s ethereal vocals, Hush sees then and growing as musicians and songwriters. While the album was informed by and inspired by our dark and heavy times, the material isn’t completely bleak either; rather, it’s filled with the hope for a bright, new day somewhere over the horizon.
In the lead up to the album’s release, I’ve written about three of Hush‘s released singles:
- Brooding album title track “Hush,” which was centered around an expansive song structure with towering layers of feedback and fuzz pedaled guitars, thunderous drumming and Holiday’s sensual yet ethereal cooing. And at its core, the song expresses an aching and unreciprocated longing.
- “Swoon,” a breakneck ripper with mosh pit friendly hooks that brought Finelines era My Vitriol and Lightfoils to mind but paired with introspective and impressionistic lyrics. The song can be read in a number of different ways: it could be read as touching upon the loneliness, uncertainty and longing that comes about as a result of a seemingly bitter breakup. But it can also be read as a desire to escape a bleak world through connecting with someone equally as lonely as you are.
- “Lull,” a lush and painterly textured synthesis of A Storm in Heaven, Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine featuring lyrics that expressed a profound and bitter ache.
Hush‘s fourth and latest single, the woozy “Blue” continues a run of stormy and textured shoegaze, centered around thunderous drumming, layers of pedal distorted power chords and enormous hooks paired with Holiday’s ethereal and achingly plaintive vocals. Much like its predecessors, “Blue” captures the complicated and contradictory feelings of a dysfunctional, tortured relationship — and in a way that feels lived-in.
The accompanying video by Vince Van Hoorick was filmed at Ancienne Belgique and featuring intimately shoots footage of the band performing the song in front of strobe lights.