Shoegaze/dreampop has seen its fair share of bands featuring guy/girl combinations singing over ethereal or blissed-out sounds. Both legendary bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, and more recent stars like Malory, Blonde Redhead, The Melody Unit, Hartfield, and Mahogany have all expertly utilized woman-man vocals gliding effortlessly over washes of guitar noise. Following in this well-established tradition is The Insect Guide, a duo from Leeds, UK, on their debut disc 6 Ft In Love. On this 9 track CD, the band runs the gamut between dreamy compositions (such as “Frozen”, the opening track that sees affected vocals and guitars intertwining beautifully) to more full-on shoegaze assaults (like on the high-energy “It’s Nothing”), to a combination of the two styles (“Touch Me”). All throughout the short but sweet disc, The Insect Guide manages to not only create beautiful shoegaze/dreampop sounds, but craft catchy songs that get stuck in the listener’s mind. The melodies are instantly recognizable as fine pop craft, and the band is careful to coat their songs in a hue of reverb that gives them an otherworldly quality.
Though most of the songs on 6 Ft In Love are relatively brief, there are plenty of highlights to note on the disc. “Touch Me” is a gorgeous track that alternates between dreamy (and almost ambient) verses that explode into a loud, hazy chorus that conjures up images of Kevin Shields (especially in the vocals of the song). “It’s Nothing” manages to marry rock swagger into linear shoegaze rock, reminding the listener of a more energetic Slowdive. “Liline”, though starting out with the haunting sound of a high pitched drone, immediately springs into a dramatic song, featuring nice vocal harmonies in the chorus, layers of intelligently written and played guitar parts, and a tension that builds powerfully throughout the song. “White Flowers” is a druggy experiment that somehow reminds the listener of Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating In Space-era Spiritualized, with its free-flowing vocals, organ parts, and liquid melodies. The title track is an ambient creation that leads into “David Hero”, which is a beautiful and anthemic song that conjures up a faint but deliberate 60’s influence, while incorporating shoegaze sonics (complete with blistering guitars and detached vocals).
Through and through, 6 Ft In Love is an accessible, yes adventurous recording that is instantly listenable, while dense and intricate enough to warrant repeat listens. The disc also comes with a DVD that accompanies the sings, bringing provocative images to the already wonderful music. As debuts go, you can’t make much more of an impression than 6 Ft In Love. Sparkingly produced, beautifully written, well-executed, The Insect Guide is a welcome addition to the pantheon of excellent male-female shoegaze/dreampop bands. Highly recommended!