[sic] Magazine

Slow Dancing Society: Priest Lake Circa ‘88

Hidden Shoal Recordings
Review by M Henaghan

It’s been a joy to watch Drew Sullivan’s career unfold as majestically as one of his compositions since Hidden Shoal brought him to prominence via stunning debut ‘The Sounds of Light When Dim’ in 2006. “The Slow and Steady Winter” followed a year later, spinning perma-frosted tales of hope and returning home, with Sullivan paying particular attention towards his experiences of his native Spokane.

‘Priest Lake Circa ‘88’ is intended as the final chapter of this double-narrative, concluding the notion of home with particular emphasis placed upon nostalgia and retrospection this time round. Dedicated to the music that shaped him as an individual, Sullivan pays homage to those he loves, incorporating fragments of New Romanticism, Art-Rock and even 80’s Metal within the gorgeous expanses of drifting guitar based ambiance.

‘Sun Spots’ provides a chief example of this, mixing a vacuum of My Bloody Valentine ‘wall of noise’ guitar textures with sparkling synth tones, while over-lapping a chiming riff strongly reminiscent of Tears For Fears. “The Iridescence of Innocence”, an expansive display of lustrous, melodic colour, transports above the clouds, spraying lavish echoic drums and soaring stadium rock solos above the haze. A blissful, timeless reverie, devoted to times past, created by a man with clear understanding of the dynamics involved (Sullivan rates Def Leppard’s ‘Hysteria’ as the best album of all time).

Rather than imposing sun-bursting melodies upon the listener, they are allowed to breathe, as volume swells provide the dynamic movement and direction throughout. The inherently pretty ‘Glimmer and Gleam’ employs this strategy, starting quietly before maneuvering onto higher plains. Imbued by an uplifting, euphoric quality, echoic vocal murmurs appear to represent a half-forgotten childhood memory. ‘This Lilac Life’ develops in a similar manner, though uses a crisp, springtime guitar tone with birdsong to get its point across.

Though headphones should be a pre-requisite for this record, ‘Priest Lake…’ still radiates with melody, colour and texture even when played at its lowest volume. Sullivan delicately balances his love of all things 80’s with the luscious reverbed ambience we’ve become accustomed to, without ever sounding indulgent. Within these eight floating gems, drones sublimate into melody and elegiac clouds form celestial sounds, to compose a rousing soundtrack for nostalgic daydreams.