Haunted shoegaze rock
Keep have been going for several years with the Virginian rockers cranking out some cracking releases. I always find it interesting when a band releases a self-titled EP or LP several years into their existence. I had thought that maybe their shoegazing sound had changed but it hasn’t. Everything is just as strong and good as it always has been. The self-titling is the only strange thing that I can pop a thinky emoji to.
Keep have mastered that haunted shoegaze sound and switch it up across the five-track EP. The vocals have a dissonance to them which mean they hit the right notes but also drone passed them. They often feel disembodied and floaty like they’d be placed in a darkwave brooding band instead. It adds to the charm and sound that Keep create. Elsewhere, the guitars know exactly when to add restraint and when to power through. ‘MSL’ for example is largely restrained and lets the thick bassline and drums push the track forward. The guitars jangle around the edges prettily. Opener ‘Honey Suckle Sour’ meanwhile builds itself to a ferocious explosion in its third act that feels earnt and satisfying. You can do a lot with turning the reverb and grit of a guitar up and down and Keep know this well.
They also try their hand at 4AD-style 80’s anthems with the catchy ‘At Night’. The poise of the riffs and the weight of all the instruments make this track a dream to listen to. The hazy synths are buried in the background and float around with the vocals perfectly. The track could be a soundtrack to any night car chase. Double-downing on this neon dirt rock vibe is single ‘Pendulum’. This takes a nod towards a punkier – dare I say grungier – sound too which really suits Keep’s sound. It also takes the unusual approach of having mighty verses and more ethereal choruses where layered voices take centre stage. The EP culminates in the brooding ‘A Sick Room’. The track is structured closer to an epic post-rock cinematic event. What makes the final few minutes of this track rage is that its the only time every instrument is firing at 100% fire. The fact its right at the end makes it feel extra climactic too. You can hear and feel all the emotional pain, disappointment and anger bury itself into the noise.
Whilst its a weird time in a bands career to release a self-titled EP, Keep is a good place to start with the band. It offers a variety of types of rock that showcases their different sounds and abilities. It feels true to everything that has come before. It is a great launch point to get into the band. Lets hope they Keep at it for a new LP in 2021 [sorry].
Recommended track: Pendulum
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