Basement Revolver smother us in Heavy Eyes

Heavy EyesSounding distinctly like a languid version of fellow Ontarians Alvvays, Basement Revolver sleepily came into our purview a couple of years back with single “Johnny”. It’s a strong enough number to justify a comparison with those global titans of indie dream pop. There’s something about the dreamy register of frontwoman Chrisy Hurn’s voice, however, that creates a level of detachment; an almost country-like three-way romance proving La Sera is another potential point of comparison. It’s almost like Hurn is singing someone else’s song.

This is a fairly consistent quality throughout the group’s debut album, Heavy Eyes – which to all intents and purposes is a varied thing, but we’ll get onto that in a minute. Is this a criticism? Not really. The band's approach to vocals, both in terms of the delivery and the production, adds an extra textural note. They also work in tandem with often – one feels wilful – simplistic lyrics (“Take me out, I want to go dancing” or “Words are just words, and words are words”), imparting the whole thing with a dreamlike shimmer.

This plays an essential role in elevating Heavy Eyes from a strong but essentially workmanlike collection of songs. Hurn is a smart guitarist, deploying various degrees of chaos, fuzz, and sparkle throughout. There are shades of Johnny Greenwood’s more strident playing on “Dancing”, which is a lot of fun, and “Heavy Eyes”; a smattering of Chastity Belt on pre-gear change “Friend” and "Wait", before moving into Slowdive; and a general air of having listened to lots of troubled alt-pop and indie bands around the turn of the century. You might identify an Anglophile slant if you're looking hard enough – closer “Diamonds” even has something about it that wouldn’t sound completely out of place on Disintegration.

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Clearly, the three-piece are not short of confidence – with “Johnny Pt.2”, “Words”, and “Dancing” containing enough bombast between them to see you through to winter. Where we do find Basement Revolver wanting, is in something that makes them uniquely them. Heavy Eyes is that sort of album that leaves you clawing at little references, with snatches of half-forgotten songs flitting in and out of consciousness. It’s no big issue - originality is terribly overrated by those who don’t know what that really means. It only means that it won’t quite make the impression it might, standing to be quickly subsumed by the stronger mental imprints of other, more distinctive, acts.

Stopping well short of saying, "Find one thing and do it well," there's a case to hope that Basement Revolver can work out what they're really about in time.

Release: 24th August 2018, Fear of Missing Out

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