Toronto band Ducks Unlimited have released their debut EP Get Bleak, a spirited release that won’t necessarily make you feel bleak.
Get Bleak features an interesting mix of sound and instruments, effects, and droning vocals. There are certainly melancholy elements, but also dreamy guitar hooks. The title track, ‘Get Bleak’, opens the EP, and I knew within 30 seconds of listening that this was my kind of music – I bet you will too. ‘Get Bleak’ is a strong single, with a memorable guitar hook and drums with a particular drive to them. The lyrics are perhaps less spirited, with declarations that “I’m past the point of caring” and “we flew across an ocean to get bleak,” but the track doesn’t feel dreary thanks to the instrumentation, which are layered quite heavily and even feature some strings.
The second track, ‘Gleaming Spires’, somehow feels like an alternative Christmas track opening with a jangly guitar. I encourage you to sneak it onto your Christmas playlists to see if anyone notices. In any case, ‘Gleaming Spires’ has a similar drive to ‘Get Bleak’, and combines the melancholy lyrics with more upbeat music again.
‘Annie Forever’ is probably the weakest track of the EP; with its slower tempo, I find myself wanting more of the contrast from ‘Get Bleak’. However, it is still ‘on brand’ with the rest of the EP, and it does provide some variation. The closing track, ‘Anhedonia’, was also Ducks Unlimited’s debut single. It is perhaps the most commercial of all the tracks, with more distinct vocals, but it keeps the jangly guitar lines and a Strokes-esque drumming pattern.
Get Bleak signals a return of the shoegazing genre, especially as I remember it from late 1990s-early 2000s Scandinavia with bands like The Radio Dept and Shout Out Louds. It’s a definite change from what we’re currently seeing on the mainstream charts – and everyone needs a palette cleanser every now and again.