by Kelli Redding
Pink Noise is the debut album from Echo Ladies, a loud and energetic dreamgaze trio hailing from Malmö, Sweden. By the name of the band and album, at first I wasn’t sure what to expect; would their sound be full of haunting echoes and cavernous guitar delays, or would it be something colorful and pulsating with glittering animation? With an album this dynamic, the answer is an exhilarating trip that touches on both of those sounds as well as everything else in-between. If you’re looking for an album that retains elements of classic 80s alt rock (think the driving basslines of New Order or the hazy guitar textures of Cocteau Twins, for example) and combines those influences with a modern and vibrant dream-pop flair, this album is for you.
The intro to the album is a frantic, alarm-esque dive into a thrill ride brought to life by warped synth walls and pounding drum beats. This sets the tone for a sense of urgency throughout the rest of the album; we don’t know what else is in store, but there’s no going back. The album’s first full song, “Almost Happy,” is a beautiful and somber guitar-driven track that could have been lifted right out of any of your favorite classic shoegaze compilations. The layered instrumental textures propel forward in a way that’s both familiar and rejuvenating, and Matilda Bogren’s vocals contrast perfectly to this sound as she fills up the rest of the space with wispy, candy-coated melody.
The next track, “Apart,” takes a more laid-back approach to the album’s so-far sense of desperation in the form of a nostalgic and gorgeous dream-pop ballad. But the song that follows, “Bedroom,” reverts back to Pink Noise’s initial glitchy energy as Bergen describes a fervent escape from a nightmare in a land of swirling guitar modulation and echoing percussion. “Darklands,” (a likely Jesus & Mary Chain reference) touches again on some of the album’s melancholic themes such as uncertainty and longing. “Hard Ending” reflects the recurring dominance of the drums as a leading role Echo Ladies’ music, as they’re a confident assertion leading us song to song and providing balance with the lingering and sometimes-delicate tones to the rest of the instrumentation.
“Overrated” is the album’s catchiest moment, a surreal and confetti-covered anthem that uplifts the mood of the previous few tracks. The closing track, “Waiting For a Sign,” is a powerful buildup of sweet and grooving melody that rises into cathedral-size synth harmonies. The lyrics imply that, although the listener has embarked on a sort of kaleidoscopic dream-journey into the album, there is still more to discover and learn about one’s self – and that hopefully there is still much more music yet to come from Echo Ladies.
Overall, this is a stellar album and one of the most solid dream-pop releases of 2018. Pink Noise takes the listener on a delirious journey through an auditory maze of mirrors, a joyride that is at times wondrous and enchanting, and at other times full of yearning and introspect. If you want to hear a new band that brings their own straightforward gift of sonic textures to the genre, do yourself – and all of your playlists – a favor and check out Echo Ladies.