written by Maria Arroyo
Surf/soul-punk band, The Gloomies, from Southern California started their musical journey in 2015 and have since released a handful of singles and a few EPs. On March 6, they released their latest album, ARE WE GETTING BETTER? The band’s multitude of influences runs anywhere from Unknown Mortal Orchestra to Ariel Pink and Lana Del Rey.
Starting off the album is an EDM and pop ambient approach, with a bit of a modern twist to it. There are a few tracks on the album that is labeled voice memo. These few songs felt like opportune times to break the trance of their music for a change in their overall sound. It created this feeling that felt similar to recording yourself in an empty room or stairwell or even an empty parking garage. While there is a lot of reverb used in the vocals, the sound still feels stripped-down compared to the rest of the album. I thought of these memos as hidden gems under the surface.
Their next song “DNTGTBTTR” creates a strong melody with a great percussive drive. There is a good mix of high energy to keep listeners engaged in the song while showcasing those softer moments to create a more intimate feeling. I also love the diversity in the bass line and how the guitar solo complements the overall feel of the song, which can also be said for “Nightlight.”
Another thing I really love about this album was the consistency in their stylistic choices. A lot of the songs, specifically “Sunflower Pollen”, “Sick Like You (ft. Jade III)”, and “Sideways” share the same shoe-gaze feel. Paired with their interesting lyrics and effects on the vocals, it really creates a sound all its own. In the first song mentioned, I loved the outro of the guitar picking, and the faded distortion was tastefully done. Another song that uses the effects of distortion a little more intensely is “S P 2.” There is a lot of slicing and dicing in terms of the distortion on the vocals and instrumentation that really stuck with me till the end.
That same shoegaze style is very apparent in one of the singles they released for this album back in 2019 titled “Moonlight.” This became another favorite of mine because as the song went on, they added more and more layers to the song without making it feel overworked or overcrowded. They were able to keep me in their world from beginning to end and I found myself having to listen to this song just one more time.
The last song is one of the voice memos that I mentioned earlier. “Voice memo 005” has the most intimate feeling of the album. I love that you can hear everything from the sound of the empty room, to how they keep the sound of the guitarist switching positions of different chords and even the breathing left in the vocals. I really appreciated the choice of a more delicate ending for the album.
ARE WE GETTING BETTER? really plays on a lot of different emotions and styles, but continues to keep it consistent. I can’t wait to hear what else they have in store for us!