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Saturday, 5 October 2013

Deafheaven - Sunbather

I try to be responsible in who I buy my records from, in the main. Labels, bands and independent shops need support to keep them going, and generally I'm happy to help. That said, this is a record I bought from Amazon. I feel a little guilty about that, but it was a fiver cheaper than anywhere else with free shipping, and I'm kind of cheap sometimes. This record habit's an expensive business. On the plus side, Amazon do seem to have sorted out their packaging for records and then some - none of the horror stories from the past here, this turned up untouched by the journey. Does that make it okay? Eh, probably.

Great cover. Sunbather, indeed. The eagle-eyed among you may have spotted that this cover was used in Apple's latest big unveiling of a marginally better phone, as can be seen here. This is almost definitely only because it is pink, for reasons which we shall come to later. What I really like about this is the die-cut A, which gives a glimpse of the folded poster inside. Very nice.

Indeed, this poster. A shiny, ribbon-y explosion in front of a pink lady, which makes absolutely no sense to me. Also the lyrics for the album which, again, we'll come to later.

Oh yes. Pink and (translucent) yellow to tie in with the artwork. I should probably point out that the inside of the sleeve is bright yellow The die-cut A from the front is replaced with a die-cut V in the back. This kind of thing, I like. Pressing info nerds among you - this is from the second pressing, out of 4500 and described as "baby pink and piss yellow". I think that's about right. Not too fussed about trying to hunt down the first pressing, though anyone who wants to see some lovely coloured records would do well going to read this post on They Still Press Vinyl covering the entire first pressing.

So from artwork alone, you might try to guess the genre of this album. You'd be wrong. That this beautiful haze of pink and yellow contains what can be best be described as a blend of post-rock, shoegaze and black metal is equal parts preposterous and brilliant - and musically not hugely Apple-advert friendly, hence the cover's use almost certainly being down to its colour. That Deafheaven even choose to mix those genres is a little ridiculous but it works perfectly. Rather than the usual spacey atmosphere of post-rock, the addition of fuzzy shoegaze distortion, furious drumming and guttural screams add an air of malice and give this album a really distinctive sound. Remember that lyrics sheet from earlier in this post? Without it there is no way of recognising any of the lyrics at all, so pained are George Clarke's vocals. 3 of the album's 7 tracks effectively serve as interludes - the Explosions In The Sky-esque Irresistable being the pick of the trio - between some fairly lengthy tracks. My favourites are probably the opener Dream House and the title track Sunbather, both of which just feel absolutely huge. I realise this isn't going to be for everyone - the mention of black metal alone will be enough to put some people off - but really, it's something special. While TWIABP is still my top album of the year, at the moment this is good enough to come in at number two.