Swedish shoe-gazer’s Here is your temple released their debut EP on 15 April. If you, like me, are thinking what on earth is a shoe-gazer? Then let me enlighten you.
The ever so eloquent Urban Dictionary defines shoe-gazer as ‘followers of post 1990’s psychedelic music, especially that which is repetitive and droning.’ The specific reason for ‘shoe gazing’ is apparently because the music induces a trance like state where one experiences the irrepressible impulse to stare vacantly at their shoes.
I can’t say this EP drove me to such activities, but I can partially identify with the repetitive and droning analogy. Whilst their musicality is evident, the somewhat overwhelming fuzziness and compression present throughout the EP is a little vexing. It almost sounds as if they recorded it in an airport hangar. Ostensibly, the issue I have here is with the effects they have chosen to apply to their songs. It seems as though each component is saturated with reverb, chorus and whatever else, ultimately deterring me from the otherwise appealing pop sensibility in their music.
Perhaps I’m just a bit cynical but I think that far too many bands mask their sound with effects in this day and age if only to conform to genre stereotypes, when they could so easily flourish with their natural sound. For example, who knows if the singer really has a nice voice behind some of the chorus riddled cries that permeate the recordings?
Scathing though I might be, there are also some real gems on this EP. The titular track So High has ingrained itself firmly into my subconscious for the rest of the day if not well into next week. The same can be said for Big Way with its fetching guitar ostinato and captivating chorus line ‘everything comes back in a big way’.
Say Hey is an example of the band’s compelling rhetoric, with lyrics that ring true about life in a slipshod world that can only be combated by togetherness. I will say though that they perhaps overegged the pie with the amount of words in this song, perhaps they could have emulated the previous track Once Rich which sums it up better with the simple observation: ‘nothing is a sure thing’.
I can’t forget to mention the hauntingly beautiful coda Daniel with its ethereal arpegiated synth and guitar melodies. This track is where the effects do work, really giving a sense of grandeur and (without sounding too trite) conjuring up an idyllic vision of the frozen vistas throughout the Swedish landscape.
This EP is available to download on iTunes and ready for a listen on the band’s SoundCloud page. They have also announced two live dates:
7 May – Notting Hill Arts Centre
5 June – The Lexington