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21 July 2014

Lightfoils || Debut Full-length Hierarchy + New Video.

I’m utterly enchanted with Hierarchy, the debut full-length from Chicago quintet Lightfoils, just out from Saint Marie Records. While other enthused writers have described the album as hard to classify or as something other than “straight up shoegaze”, to my ears this record presents a sound that while plenty distinctive is quite quintessentially shoegaze.

For me one of the characteristics at the heart of the idiom is the spectrum of emotion that gets compressed into great shoegaze tracks—the ones that erupt with sadness and joy, melancholy and celebration all at once. This emotional quality is mirrored by sonic juxtapositions in which blissfully tortured guitars unleash great waves of noise with pretty, gently enunciated vocal melodies afloat among them. Classic bands of the genre like Medicine, My Bloody Valentine, and Slowdive have all excelled at this.

On Hierarchy, Lightfoils pull it off too, offering their own fully realized, sorrowful-transcendant-triumphant admixture of these essential sonic and emotional characteristics of shoegaze. Special kudos to Jane Zabeth whose vocals are deservedly brought a little more forward in the mix than genre convention might dictate. Her voice traces graceful, swooping arcs over the music’s haze like the outlines of lofty hills soaring over banks of mist. The rhythm section of Cory Osborne and John Rungger, whom we interviewed last September, brings impressive prog-level chops and some of that kind of ideation to the underpinnings of the songs. Guitarists Zeeshan Abbasi and Neil Yodnane are responsible for the gales of shoegaze textural assault that hold it all together.

Here’s the new video for Diastolic, the fourth track on Hierarchy.­­

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