With dreamy distorted riffs and an atmospheric faraway drone, the distinguished melodies of shoegazing alt-rock are thought to be early nineties relics, nostalgia-tinged tracks that have since outgrown radio play. In their newest August 2015 EP Noose, however, United Kingdom grunge quartet Downers have infused far-out noise with new-found energy and vigor, dropping three tracks that ensure the longevity of the era of ambience with an indie nu-rock twist.
The EP opens with a spacey riff and a far away voice moaning, “I turned away from the sun.” That first track, Erased, sets the tone for the rest of the selection, managing to evoke the band’s sound, style, and sentiments in a smooth track with dirty guitars and delivery dripping with frustration and feeling. It’s murky in the best possible way, like tarnished silver gems at the bottom of your grandmother’s jewelry box, gorgeous, dreamy, distant, and dark.
The second song off the EP, titled Graze, sounds eerily reminiscent of the Smashing Pumpkin’s Cherub Rock, a stellar grunge-gaze jam off the groundbreaking 1993 Siamese Dream. Clocking in at just a bit over five minutes, the song certainly outlasts most modern pop schlock radio anthems. Still, the song doesn’t feel like it’s overstaying its welcome. Instead, it’s driving and progressive, as if someone put the Pumpkins, Nirvana, and a dash of Pearl Jam into a downbeat blender, shoegaze with a sucker punch of punk.
While we’re speaking of sucker punches, let’s address the third song on Noose, Grown Out, a shimmering Cobain-tinged track. The guitars and speaker screeches at the start of the track will pull you out of the trance that Graze may have lured you into. And while the melancholy lyrics might very well have fallen into the trap of artifice in the hands of another band, the boys of Downers seem to have an aversion to factitiousness. The vocals feel real and raw, paradoxically melding and mashing with roaring garage-rock instrumentals.
Noose is a terrific trio of tracks, each one tied together by stunning interstellar grooves, underwater distortions, charged lyricism, and a sound so reminiscent of the angst-ridden glory days of grunge that you may feel compelled to check the release date, just to be sure they’re not nineties-era hidden gems. A fine album, Noose is a stunning work that bodes well for the future of the band and the genre they’re keeping on life support.
Goes Well With a Side Of: Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, anything Billy Corgan has ever touched, and the patience to wait for the next EP.