Ringo Deathstarr revisit shoegaze roots for Pure Mood

Pure MoodRichey Edwards once said that he hated Slowdive more than Hitler, and while the benefit of hindsight may render the comparison a tad unfair, you could certainly argue that they have a lot to answer for. As well as the slew of obligatory reformations, shoegaze reluctantly reared its head once more around 2007, offering a whole new generation the chance to feel like they'd taken a bit too much ketamine and fallen asleep in a microwave. Enter Ringo Deathstarr, the Texan pedal-botherers now on their fourth album.

The problem with any genre revival, of course, is how to deal with the past. Do you wear your old badges on a slightly shinier jacket? (Hi nu-rave!) Do you pick up the base signifiers and run with something completely different? (Hi post-punk circa 2005, please stop calling this number.) Or do you stay faithful to the original sound? In spite of a few red herrings, it's clear that Pure Mood opts for the latter. Opening track "Dream Again" is beautifully stripped back, and though both guitar and vocals are coated in reverb, the ethereal female vocals recall Blonde Redhead in their pomp. As if to cast all that aside, "Heavy Metal Suicide" revolves around a brilliantly over-the-top metal guitar riff, succumbing to a lush chorus.

Unfortunately, inspiration has all but dried up before the album even hits the 10 minute mark, and the remainder of Pure Mood becomes a game of guessing which guitar parts are meant to sound like Ride ("Stare at the Sun") and which are My Bloody Valentine ("Big Bopper"). Slowly but surely, the vocals that lit up the opener disappear deeper into the mix, and a heavy fug of distortion, pitch bending, delay, and reverb take over. It's not so much that this has all been done before - and let's be clear, there is very little here that's new - but that it's been done so much better, even by their contemporaries.

What's interesting to note is that dream pop, the child begat by the union of shoegaze and ambient, has retained a great deal of its cultural cachet, with bands like Beach House and M83 enjoying well-deserved critical attention. But - and here's the rub - neither of those bands sound like they're desperately trying to be, say, Cocteau Twins. They are truly looking at the stars. Ringo Deathstarr's eyes, it must be said, remain firmly at their feet.

Release: 20th November 2015, AC30


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