I’ve never gotten shoegaze, it’s just not anything that appeals to me on a fundamental level. Some of this comes from the nature of the genre – pop music drowning in distortion is still pop music – and part of it I’m pretty sure comes from not seeing it live at the time it was breaking. I can imagine that seeing some of these bands live was really an experience, one that I couldn’t have appreciated at 9 years old. The fans of the genre I know well rave about shows to a degree that I think the live experience of the genre is tied up for the love of these bands.
But the genre’s influence cannot be denied in the 21st century – it’s arguably much more important than its contemporary, grunge, for example. And so I find myself listening to it periodically, despite not being particularly interested in the sound.
The first thing this record has going for it is that the songs are arguably a little more traditional as alternative rock songs than those of their contemporaries. As a fan of rock music, I’m more drawn to bands that play rock music, rather than pop music, whether or not that music is drowning in noise. And I find these poppy rock songs more accessible to me than the poppier stuff of a certain other shoegaze band.
At times, the relatively conventional songs can even trick you into thinking this isn’t shoegaz but then they bring the noise again and you remember. Now, that noise isn’t quite as Wall of Sound as a certain more famous shoegaze band’s particular version, but that’s acceptable because of the songs and, also, because it’s good to be your own thing.
I’d also argue this version sounds a little less dated in terms of the sound of the record, which doesn’t sound as damn ’80s.
But the thing that this record really has going for it is timing – I’m not sure how many other full-on shoegaze records had been released by this point. I know of 1 (there are surely others) and so that makes a pretty big deal in the history of the genre. And, if I liked this genre as much as other people, I’d probably make a bigger deal out of it.