Hailing from New York City and having been together for two years, Ifwhen released their debut album in Japan on Quattro, but it was released nowhere else. We Will Gently Destroy You is their sophomore effort that has yet to find a home. This, in my opinion, is highly unfortunate. Consisting of Merc (ex All Natural Lemon and Lime Flavors), Kentaro, and Mary Macdowell, Ifwhen will overwhelm your senses and dazzle your eardrums with their brand of sonic bliss. Walls of sound wash over you as percussion dances in between washes of fuzz.
We Will Gently Destroy You opens with “Fantastic Maneuver” which is an attack on the senses. It has sliding bass, fuzzy guitar and keys and strong percussion. This line of attack repeats over and over and shifts into another tone with blipping keys and what sounds almost like backwards vocals. In the true sense of shoegaze, the vocals are truly an instrument in the song. I can make out “I must think of something fast,” but not much more than that. This is followed by the sinister sounding “Only Faster.” Merc’s voice floats over waves of fuzzed out guitars and brilliant bass work. The percussion has a backbeat to it and the guitar is very dissonant. There are flute like keys sprinkled throughout the track. This leads the listener into “Just Fine Today.” What is different about this track is the melody in the vocals. Once the initial sound is cut, a minimal wall of sound is built with high pitch keys and quick percussion. The guitar sounds on this track are full and awesome. There is great variation in the song as keys change and the tempo and mixtures of sounds go in and out of the mix. “A Furious Kind” follows with walls of sound and a cavalcade of keys.
“Speed Bursts” has strong, throbbing percussion and rhythm guitar. The bass work on this track is also incredible. It really drives the song forward. In the midst of the percussive, chaos appears with vibrating key sounds and blips and clicks. Again, in order to break up what could be monotony, there are changes in the mix and percussive elements. In fact, about 1:50 into the song, the feel changes substantially to a minimalist feel with no walls and simple keys complimenting the floating vocals. “Safe to Cross” begins with what sounds like a backwards “Speed Bursts.” Once this changes, the fuzzed out guitars take control and fade out to mixtures of complex key arrangements. “Safe to Cross” has an almost dance feel to it at the beginning. The guitar fades into the right side while a wall of fuzz comes into the left. There is a spaced out keyboard popping into the mix here and there. This creates a very disconnected feel with the off kilter drum mix and the walls of sound.
“Escape Method” has a very heavy keyboard sound with breathy, floating vocals again. There is strong percussion and aggressive bass work. “Not the Same Time” is probably my favorite track on the whole disc. There is a pronounced guitar line at the beginning that fades into walls of sound, and then takes them over. The percussion is slow in the background with a tapping sound that is faster to add a sort of dissonant feel. This falls to the wayside to give way to a low, bass type feel with keys and intricate bass. The great guitar line comes into the song again at round 2 minutes. This movement from guitar line to dissonant feel leads the listener out of the song and into “Incidental Contact.” This is the shortest track on the disc. There is strong percussion again and variations on fuzzed out guitars throughout the track. There is also what sounds like the snapping of fingers sprinkled in among the percussion. This brief track leads the listener into the last track, “Nothing Left to Avoid.” This is a slow tempo song with warbled keys and straightforward percussion. The keys almost feel like a sick circus organ, and I mean that to be a good thing. The keys eventually even out and create a rather soothing feel. Of course, like the rest of Ifwhen’s tracks, they go back and forth, changing the feel throughout the song. This song fades out and leaves the reader dumbfounded by the walls of sound just experienced.
Ifwhen produce mind numbing, exquisite sonics. The percussion in this band is brilliant and the bass work excellent. The keys and floating vocals combined with these pieces make for a fascinating album that will make your senses real. Let’s just hope this album finds a home soon!