What does waveform* sound like?
Lofi rock with studio trimmings that borrows from multiple eras and blends it all together.
The review waveform* – Antarctica
Jarrett and Dan are a duo who embrace their angst and isolation in equal measure. Their lyrics have pointed edges to them but wax poetic. Their rock often has a harsh gaze or psychedelic edge to it but often sounds pastoral too. As a duo, dealing with duality constantly, it makes their album ‘Antarctica’ one of those rock albums that takes a few listens to truly appreciate. Now that the album has sat with me for two months, I’m happy to give a glowing seal of approval and a hearty recommendation.
There is a lot to dissect here. The album is largely split into loud/quiet, and lo-fi rock/harder alternative rock sections. For example, if you are looking for smooth beats, fluid guitars and drum loops from the 70s, ‘Ocean’ has you covered with an inviting hit. The beautiful electric guitar high note picking of ‘Ballroom’ adds a touch of elegance to a psych-infused alternative track. ‘Clarity’ mixes acoustic rock verses with sludgy lo-fi bedroom rock choruses and epic codas that straddle both sides. It feels like bedroom/indie rock has been photoshopped into a studio setting. Songs benefit from some sneaky production smoothing whilst keeping its rustic, ramshackle indie vibe. It really suits Waveform*’s vocals which have a folksy lilt and sway to them. As the guitars bellow, the vocals are drowned out in a good way.
All this trickery allows Waveform* to lean into their ‘tired but soldiering on’ emotional rollercoaster the album is about. The album is about processing long periods of isolation and hopelessness but there’s little dwelling. Instead, tracks like ‘Orphan Child’ sparkle in the disarray of chaos around them. The slow waltz, the guitar feedback solo that grinds against the weary vocals – it is pretty in the breakdown. Even the downtempo melancholy of ‘Lonely’ has a wistful breeze to it. The track that leans into this state of apathetic staleness most is ‘In My Drink’. The longest song on the album, it is a moody, slow, meditative dirge that evokes a stillness if rock can do that for you. When paired with the deliberate slow rage of guitars with ‘Freak Me Out’, Waveform* bring their Radiohead and mash it with their Beatles.
Interestingly, the first half of the album is more uptempo and alt-rock focused. ‘Marijuana’ is a fierce jangly rock anthem about using the drug as a coping mechanism. ‘Firework’ is an excellent alternative anthem for mumblers. It balances noodling moods, subtle synths, clever drum loops and a cathartic final third where the track gets heavy. Whilst the title track ‘Antarctica’ is slower tempo-wise, it packs possibly the biggest quiet-to-loud ratio on the album. You won’t feel the force in speed but the bitterness of the guitar chugs convey the feeling perfectly.
Waveform* pop lofi production, shoegaze elements, alt-rock and some nods to 70s folk rock in a blender and the results are superb. You can hear and feel the isolation in the songs and whilst some embrace the sadness, others offer a dreamier version of events. There is plenty of love here, especially if you enjoy that homemade production. By that I don’t mean harsh to the ears, I’m talking bedroom rock trappings with studio production benefits. I’m often spending time on my own and sometimes it gets lonely. ‘Antarctica’ is a companion album to explore different views of loneliness and get either comfort or catharsis depending on what you need.
Recommended track: Firework
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