Shuteye Unison – Our Future Selves

Shuteye Unison - Our Future Selves coverIs it a cliché to compare a band playing texturally dense indie rock with rich power-pop melodies to Broken Social Scene, or is that just a side effect of the sound being so dominated by a band of significant stature? Well, the comparison certainly stands, as do comparisons to more straightforward and hooky shoegaze-lite indie rockers like Silversun Pickups. Regardless of whether or not the comparisons smack of cliché, they’re intended as positive remarks. With clean, bright vocals, a light touch of gain on the guitars, a hooky rhythm that gives way to waves of ambient sound and keys, and some great melodies in the vocal lines, Shuteye Unison cherry-pick some of the brightest strengths of the aforementioned bands.

If opening track ‘Be Kimball’ is a little overlong – those shimmering waves of sound dominate the latter two thirds of song, which weighs in at over seven minutes in all – the steady marching rhythm and restrained bass and guitar lines of ‘Our Future Selves’ draw on similar strengths to produce a more compact and distinct song. The backing vocals in the song’s second half harmonise subtly with the lead vox, with the latter dropping out for an extended bridge to allow room for a distant-sounding yet memorable gang chant.

There’s a subtle and deft approach to crafting indie pop gems that pervades Our Future Selves. ‘Better Hallway Vision’ features some great post-punk trading guitar and bass lines, their call-and-response style laid over a solid rhythm and rich, gentle melody. ‘Camouflagers’ builds nicely and weaves in a vague country & western vibe to some of its guitar rhythms. ‘Century M’ rivals ‘Be Kimball’ in length, and although it lacks some of the impact of the opener it still manages to grow and breathe thanks to some inventive drumming.

There are weaker moments, too, as in ‘Swear Words’, where faintly haunting vocals and lyrics can’t distract from the song lacking the dexterity of its fellows, or ‘Traffic Hymn’, with an incongruously short length of two minutes but a lack of direction to justify that choice. But all told, Our Future Selves is a rich and rewarding album that seems to grow denser on repeat listens – as all of the best dreamy indie pop should.

(P.S. Not strictly a part of this review, but Our Future Selves was released by Parks And Records, a label co-run by singer/bassist Jon Fee. It’s my first encounter with the record label, though I dig what they’re doing: billing themselves as a “socially responsible independent record label”, they seek to combine “the courage of K”, “the brains of Dischord” and “the heart of Merge”. They like parks and they like records. I approve.)

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