Written by Maria Arroyo
California shoegaze band, Fleeting Joys, is re-releasing their debut album, Despondent Transponders, after 15 years. Despondent Transponders has been described as a “lost shoegaze classic,” and brings us back to the beginning of their steps as up and coming musicians. Their use of layering effects and the back and forth between both sets of vocals work nicely with one another and continue to create a sound that sounds like “part death, part hope, part sadness.”
The opening track, “The Breakup,” has a nice rhythm to it with the rock style that brings it to life. The instrumentation plays around with different semitones just outside the key that takes some getting used to, but it’s an interesting artistic choice. While the vocals still get a little lost in the mix, when I could hear them, they worked well with the instrumentation.
Following this track is “Lovely Crawl,” which has a softer tone to the voice which I find really appealing. I really love the sound they created with this angle, because it became the best mic of their unique washy psychedelic tones with a bit of a modern edge to it.
“Go And Come Back” carries that edge from the previous song. The ebb and flow between the more intimate sounding sections with the edgier ones really work off of one another, which is done very well. The back and forth really amplifies the musicianship in the song, and really starts to push me towards their sound.
Another track that I really took to is “Satellite.” There are a ton more of their rock influences surfacing, which I think works so well for them. The dissonant sound effect choices start to feel like they have a place in the song, and become more thought out.
Their closing track, “Patron Saint,” serves as a very strong rock ending. There are some great guitar riffs that work so well with the haunting-effect the vocals have. While the vocals were drowned out by that same guitar riff, I enjoyed it so much it didn’t bother me like it usually does.
Fleeting Joys is definitely an acquired taste, which is starting to sit well in me. Their music is so out of the box that it just works. Their use of “shivering dissonant guitars, low-end bass lines, atmospheric keyboards, layers of squalls, heavy drums, and buried androgynous vocals” really come to life in this release.
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