Since their formation in 2016, the Brooklyn-based indie act No Swoon — the core duo of Tasha Abbott (vocals, guitar) and Zack Nestel-Patt (synths) — have received attention locally and nationally for a sound that meshes elements of dream pop, shoegaze, post-punk and ethereal wave. And interestingly, much like BLACKSTONE RNGRS, Lightfoils and others, the Brooklyn-based act have added their name to a growing list of acts that have actively pushed the sonic and aesthetic boundaries of shoegaze and dream pop.
Last year’s critically applauded EP 1 was written in Los Angeles during a self-imposed exile from the East Coast. For Abbott, a native of Ontario, CA, the idea was to get back to her geographic and musical roots with a great deal of time spent driving around the suburbs listening to the goth and new wave that her mom played in the car when Abbott was a little girl (Bauhaus, Love and Rockets, New Order) and the indie rock and punk rock of her teenage years (Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The White Stripes).
Now, as you may recall, the duo’s forthcoming Jorge Elbrecht-produced, self-titled debut is slated for a November 1, 2019 release through Substitute Scene Records, and the album reportedly is an ambiguous and urgent affair that thematically touches upon the confusion, frustration and uncertainty of our zeitgeist. Naturally, the result is material that is at times searingly critical, frustrated and despondent everything from misogyny to global power imbalance and inequality with each of the song’s narrators seeking answers to questions that may never be resolved. The album also finds the duo collaborating with Robi Gonzalez, best known for his work with A Place to Bury Strangers and This Will Destroy You, contributing drums.
“Don’t Wake Up, Wake Up,” their self-titled debut’s first single and opening track was a Joy Division-like take on shoegaze, centered around layers of fuzzy and distorted power chords, a motorik-like chugging groove, an enormous arena rock-like hook. But at its core, Abbott expresses confusion, unease and frustration while asking uncomfortably familiar, large questions: has the world gone crazier or is it me? Is this real or is this some horrifying and unending nightmare? “Forward,” the album’s second single was a lush, synth-driven track featuring shimmering and arpeggiated synths, thunderous drumming, a soaring hook and Abbot’s ethereal cooing. And while being their most dance floor-like single of their growing catalog, the song expresses frustration about how we haven’t made progress on racism, sexism. homophobia, inequality and so on. “Faces,” the self-titled album’s third and latest single continues in the same lush vein of its predecessor — but it’s a shimmering and slow burning and meditative song that evokes a sense of alienation and disconnectedness that feels and sounds familiar.
“Faces is the oldest song on the record and worked for us as a kind of pivot from the sound of the EP to the sound of the record,” the band explains in press notes. “We brought in a sampled synth and had more intricate parts and arrangements. Lyrically the song is about floating through a crowded city feeling disassociated from the people you see around and how specifically we begin to internalize that alienation. A day living in a city puts us in proximity to an insane number of people. And that number increases ten fold when you add what we see on social media. Yet so many of our friends are struggling with loneliness. It’s hard to build and sustain a close community. And in many ways, how we are forced to live in this city specifically makes connecting to folks difficult. The generally cramped apartments we share make it hard to have people over, and the struggle to pay rent make it hard to have income to go out. And this is beyond the general exhaustion so much of us feel from hustling.”