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Album Review

by Splashh


Review Date
3rd September 2013
Reviewed by
James Manning

When Brain Slaves/Coshercot Honeys called it quits a few years back it was a hard-hitting comedown that those superb demo and bootleg tracks 'Weekend Story' and 'Ecstasy' could barely compensate for. A similarly bleak day sprung when The Checks disbanded last year, and while Splashh isn't quite the phoenix rising from those ashes, they surely come close.

Based in London, Brain Slaves frontman and guitarist Sasha Carlson has joined forces with Checks drummer Jacob Moore, and along with Australian bassist Toto Vivian and UK native Thomas Beal, the quartet have been making waves on both sides of the Atlantic with their brand of psychedelic, fuzz-heavy surf gone indie-rock.

Their debut album 'Comfort' sits at an intersection between the synth-heavy grooves of early New Order, the indie-pop of The Stone Roses and the hedonism of the Madchester movement, the distortion of the Jesus and Mary Chain, and the lo-fi crunch of Dinosaur Jr. Splashh may wear their alternative influences proudly on their sleeves, but they manage to craft these around their own sun-drenched melodies.

Opener 'Headspins' introduces the tone of the album; thick walls of dreamy distortion let bright hooks shine through with chiming guitars, trembling bass, catchy synths and echo-laden vocals. These ingredients culminate on lead single 'All I Wanna Do', where the swooning 'ooohs' and 'aaahs' solidify the blurry aesthetic. Carlson's nonchalant vocals are half vacant throughout, smudged out by swirling feedback and sprinkles of impromptu guitar licks and synth excursions. "I wanna go where nobody knows" he yells on the surf-rock 'Vacation' (a track dedicated to escaping zoo-like cities), picking up the tempo before the adrenaline shot of ecstatic angst in 'So Young'.

A feeling of familiarity lingers throughout that stems from the care-free, nostalgic theme stringing the instrumentation and lyrical components together. Splashh look back on simpler times of innocence, not quite with rose-coloured glasses, but with the melancholic gaze of adulthood.

This innocence is crystallised by the lyrics ("I can't get enough of you, 'cause you are the strangest tasting fruit” in 'Strange Fruit'), the barely audible description of a first kiss on the wah-wah bass-driven 'Feels Like You', and even the song titles 'Lemonade' and 'Washed Up' allude to summers gone. Along with their distorted psych-pop fuzz all connoting rollicking beach romps and young lust, it's a sound bound to transport listeners back to their own youth.

In saying that, the familiarity is partly due to the latter half of the album relying on the formula of the first, with 'Lemonade', 'Strange Fruit' and 'Washed Up' rehashing the same mid-tempo pacing, sadly forfeiting their impact and individuality.

A lack of diversity aside, Comfort will warm you with reminders of simpler times where adventure and fun were your only priorities, and is a great starting point for a promising band.


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