archive review originally posted on the losing today site c. 2003 …..
Second full length in as many months from the supersonic trio Skywave, and as if achieving the impossible, several notches up on their previous outing for Best Kept Secret. ‘Synthstatic’ is a curious mix of brooding menace and sonic meltdown yet scratch below the surface and up shine a clutch of wannabe straight laced three chord pop punkers fighting for air.
‘Synthstatic’ is a powerfully drawn 14 track album that cleverly picks up the threads previously laid on ‘Interference’ cuckolding the evidently raging spirit and harnessing its septic nature into an enveloping fabric that warms as much as it teases, partly demonic and yet invitingly alluring. Skywave’s ace up their sleeve are the dense impenetrable backdrops they so ably weave into their colossal sound, ‘Synthstatic’ is equally happy to clout you around the head with its white hot urgency as it is to bring you to your knees with it’s hurting soft side. Spirit wise Skywave retread the so called shoegaze scene with equitable aplomb, the glorious heaven bound tapestries of Kitchens of Distinction can be found gliding with wild abandon alongside the gracious flurries of Slowdive and Chapterhouse, whilst the debris inducing attrition of MBV (just check out the volatile ‘Don’t say slow’) and early Jesus and Mary Chain dab strains of toxic infusion to what is a breathtakingly enriched montage, and all this without mentioning the statuesque chemistry of the Chameleons.
‘Synthstatic’ as a whole is an emotion sapping enterprise, for long periods it broods, the soul crushing symphonies send out subtle distress signals to hearts prepared to listen conveying feelings of solitude and hopelessness best exemplified by the daunting ‘Nothing left to say’, basking in ethereal washes of soaring orchestrations it combines to illustrate a magnificent doom laden cast that you can’t resist being sucked into. At other times the pained loneliness is replaced by agitated aggression as depicted by the forcible opener ‘Tsunami’, replete with a decidedly cooling psych veneer a visceral sub three minute buzz claws menacingly as though MBV had been set the task of giving ‘Never Understand’ an acute facelift, similarly the frenetic ‘Kill me Dead’ trips testily with pure ‘Psychocandy’ coursing through its veins. ‘Fire’ struts with Velvet-esque charisma, shaded aloof pop that has the same cavernous primal surge as Rose of Avalanche’s ‘L.A. Rain’ though fighting for its life within a storm of searing fuzz.
‘Here she comes’ gets close to being one of the best two minutes of spiked bubblegum fuzz pop heard around these parts for many a year, equal parts early Undertones and Ramones battling to keep balance on sonic surf boards, while ‘Over and Over’ and ‘Kiss’ swerves and glides with all the pulling potency as to suggest it could easily hold its own on ‘Script of the Bridge’, the latter a majestic wash of simmering mood swings and frosted atmospherics all pitched with the kind of doom laden skin that housed the Cure’s ‘Pornography’. As if to muddy the waters the spitting C-86 gloss of ‘Wear this Dress’ apes the Wedding Present’s own ‘My Favourite Dress’ and buries it in an array of gliding sonic maelstrom that even the Reid brothers would hold up their hands in admiration.
Purely on terms of noise dynamic ‘Angela’s an Angel’ is a festering corker that you’d do well to wear a crash helmet for, two and a half minute of freewheeling carnage that just refuses to let up, while ‘Life to take your hand’ is sweetly visited by echoes of Joy Division’s ‘Love will tear us apart’. All in all ‘Synthstatic’ is a perfect dream pop collage pierced by swinging moods and unbridled passion, punishing beauty doesn’t get any better than this, a truly glowing release.