Nineteen seconds. That’s how long it takes before you’re forced to shut up, stop what you were doing and give your full, undivided attention to the debut album from Melbourne shoegazers, Flyying Colours. Nineteen seconds, in which the fuzz, drone and feedback of My Bloody Valentine like guitars build to an incredibly satisfying climax, kicking off one of the most impressive introductions to an album in 2016, so far. ‘It’s Tomorrow Now’ is a gorgeous haze of heavy distortion, relentless amen-break beat drums and delicate dual vocals. It’s a pallet of noise that’s always on the edge of spiralling out of control, yet hangs together as the track moves towards its 90’s noise-solo outro. However, this isn’t just a wall of indulgent distortion; the pop melody is there, bleeding through the noise as the track builds and falls away, repeatedly, making room for reverb drenched vocals and some oh-so-satisfying crescendos. It’s such an exhilarating experience; providing a physical, out of body ‘moment’ that you can only get with such cathartic, energetic and heavy shoegaze.
But one song doesn’t make an album, and with Mindfullness Flyying Colours set out to prove that engaging, exciting shoegaze doesn’t always have to imitate Loveless.
Track two, ‘Long Holiday’, goes lighter on the distortion but is no less hazy; guitars acting like the proverbial time machine, on a tour of all your favourite, nostalgic 90’s summer memories. ‘1987’ is the ‘punch’ in summer-punch, with a playful Johnny Marr-esque guitar line accompanying some surprisingly dynamic and intricate machine-gun drum fills.
However, that guitar ‘drone’ is never too far away, returning to the foreground on the album’s mid-point, ‘Mellow’; ramping up the psychedelica and reverb to points which, without quite matching the intensity of the album’s opener, still invoke that all important pang of nostalgia. As with a lot of moments on the album, the male and female dual vocals, don’t act so much as purveyors of lyrics but as an additional uber-reverberant instrument. You often forget that there are lyrics hidden away, such is the haze they’re so beautifully bedded within. Then, after a slight and subtle transition, ‘Roygbiv’ floats in; swallowing the vocals all together, during four minutes of done-a-long post-rock reflection.
The album’s final three track run moves from the dark-edged indie of ‘Sun Hail and Rain’ to the slow moving, post-rock distorted chug of title track ‘Mindfullness’ and then to the album closer ‘When’. It’s on this final track that, for the first time on the album, the vocals get that extra bit of clarity as those dual vocals sing; “and it all goes so fast, now it’s all in the past”, before the track builds towards a signature crescendo of carefully balanced distortion and noise.
And then it’s over. 41 minutes of incredibly satisfying, beautifully produced shoegaze. The question is; will those plus 40 minutes seem as innovative, potent, mesmerising and satisfying a year down the line?
It’s this balance between ‘throw back’ and innovation that has always been a problem with shoegaze; a genre so tied to its time and innovators that it’s hard to break free of those very 90’s sounding shackles. So instead, an album like Mindfullness, brimming with classic 90’s rock/indie/shoegaze signatures, can only really be judged/tested on its ability to engage our attention and trigger that emotive response in the here and now – all without stepping into imitation territory – and that’s not an easy test to pass. But on the first couple of listens Mindfullness does pass, with…well…you know.
So, who cares if a little objectivity a year from now may render it less of a success? Because right now in this moment this album is shoegaze and it is all the bands I loved in the 90’s and it will be the only thing I’ll want to listen to – for a week or two at least.
Mindfullness is out today via Club AC30.