Tears Run Rings released their first EP in the spring of 2007. A long-distance band where members live in Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, and Los Angeles, CA, Tears Run Rings writes, records, and shares tracks over the long-distance wires of the internet until the band is satisfied with the results. Their last full-length, Distance, appeared on the Clairecords label about 6 years ago in 2010. Tears Run Rings is made up of Dwayne Palasek (drums), Ed Mazzucco (guitar), Laura Watling (vocals & bass), and Matthew Bice (vocals & guitar). In Surges appears on Deep Space Recordings and sees the band return at the top of their game.
“Happiness 6” is an ethereal introduction to the album. Dreamy vocals sit on a layered set of ambient drones. Bice’s vocals are hypnotic and hazy. “Happiness 6” fades and “Belly Up” explodes into the speakers with a fuzzed-out guitar wall. Bice’s vocals are equally wistful with Watling providing backing vocals that bring depth to the piece. The guitars glitter here and there as they peek out from behind their fuzzy textures. “Things Have Changed” has this shimmering quality to its intro as guitars are gently picked. They give way to bass and drums and reverbed vocals. This stripped-down moment is brilliant and beautifully pensive. In their compositions, Tears Run Rings don’t rush nor do they fill spaces just to fill them. There is a decidedly stripped down feel to some of these pieces even though they are shoegaze/bliss-pop songs.
“Part of the Glass” feels like an Echo and the Bunnymen meets Slowdive track. I hate to make band comparisons because I worry about giving the sense that a band is derivative because of it, but that is not the impression I want to give here. It’s fantastically nostalgic while being so fresh. Tambourine tinkles over the submerged vocals sitting under iridescent guitars. “Green Lakes” is the longest composition on the disc, clocking in at 8:00. Guitars weep amid the drones and the drum and bass trudge along at a slow but deliberate pace. Watling takes lead vocal here and her voice is just elegant. The length of the track and its composition creates this bliss-pop/shoegaze epic feel. “Broken” is another piece with Watling at the mic. The song is simple, with her vocals singing a ghostly melody over a strumming guitar and other drones. It is like an unstructured ballad, formless and beautiful if not for Watling’s melodic contribution.
“Destroyer” glitters in the speakers and has an old-school, Cocteau Twins feel to it. Bice and Watling trade vocals in an otherworldly conversation. This is the height of nugaze bliss-pop as guitars enter and exit the mix, creating spaced out walls of sound and being tonally dazzling as they play in conversation with one another. Even the drums seem to be on reverb here, as they echo and bounce about the layers. “Something You Can’t Hide”, however, brings the shoegaze in full force. This is a brief pop masterpiece that just summons the ghosts of the early nineties. There is no holding back the early-gaze influence here and it’s quite lovely. “Sine Wave Sleep” is metronymic, hypnotically calling the listener to sit back and fall into its embrace. Bice’s vocals are haunting. Bright guitars twinkle in the mix as the drums and bass begin to move the track forward. This dreamlike piece feels bright and hopeful.
“Happiness 7” is the finale to the album and recalls the first track “Happiness 6”. Like it, it is ambient and ethereal in nature, playing with drones, textures, sonics, and a lack of form. As the volume increases, bass rumbles about and guitars begin to screech. Bice fills out the soundscape with vocals awash in reverb. Percussion is set way back in the mix, hiding under a river of sound. At about 3:27, the track changes as Watling begins to sing among fuller drones and textures. Everything here is awash in swirling bliss.
Tears Run Rings prove that they’ve been gone for far too long. While six years was worth the wait for In Surges, let’s hope we don’t have to wait another six for their next album. If you are a lover of shoegaze or bliss-pop, this album should certainly be in your collection. In Surges is an ethereal aural delight that no music fan should miss!
Tears Run Rings’ official site is here.
Order In Surges here while the limited vinyl is still available!