[sic] Magazine

Pinkshinyultrablast – Grandfeathered

Wow, this record is brutal. As in absolutely B R U T A L. No, really! Don’t allow the first track, ‘Initial’, to lull you into a false sense of security – its pleasant layers of synths first had me concerned that I’d been mailed the wrong disc. However, it took just the opening seconds of ‘Glow Vastly’ to confirm that I definitely had not. It turns out that ‘Initial’ is one of those rare moments where blistering noise isn’t the norm.

Pinkshinyultrablast have a sound which lies somewhere east of Lush, My Vitriol and J-Pop. I guess that being located in Russia allows the band to collect inspiration from wherever – and whenever – they wish, which could of course end in potential disaster should the band turn out to be ardent Chapterhouse and Soundgarden fans, but fortunately (for us) that doesn’t look to be the case. Of course, there are many nods to the ‘classic’ shoegaze template of the early 90s, but they’ve added in just enough fresh ingredients to differentiate their sound. In particular, verses are more melodic than most original shoegaze bands (yes, I realise that’s a bold statement – but you’ll see what I mean once you hear this album) and there’s nice use of both reverbed jingly-jangly guitars and layers of synths to create something altogether newer than what’s gone before. Even recent shoegaze experimentalists Serena-Maneesh and Amusement Parks On Fire don’t veer this far from the 90s template.

It goes without saying that there are parts where the guitars sound like a freight train careering off the line at high speed, ploughing across tarmac simply unable to stop, the sound of metal dragging against concrete and continuing for what seems like a dangerously long time – while all the time, the vocals, rather than occupying the role of full-blown angst, actually produce something more akin to Emma Anderson on helium. The two components feel somewhat alien during the first few listens, like sweet and sour, but you soon find that they work rather well.

I haven’t quite figured out how the band builds its massive wall of distortion – but this wall’s not about to fall down anytime soon! I can imagine why Pinkshinyultrablast are an amazing live draw because their sound is so layered and textured; during ‘Glow Vastly’, it’s not all about ear-shredding guitars – during the verse there’s that melody line (no, I have precisely no idea what they’re actually singing about) and underneath, a mixture of pop guitars and synths along with pretty much whatever the band could lay their hands on during its recording – possibly including spanners left on the studio floor, a chair which could be ‘launched’ at the drummer and a 4ft vase which must absolutely be smashed to smithereens. There’s even one section around three-and-a-half minutes into the track which takes the ghost of Joy Division, sets fire to it and then attempts to stamp it out by throwing Molotov cocktails at it. The same moment arrives nearly six minutes into ‘Comet Marbles’ and it’s an absolute joy.

The whole album feels like Pinkshinyultrablast has found their sound. It’s a sound that they’re clearly completely comfortable and confident with. It’s also a unique sound – I’ve not heard other bands occupying the same musical space (even Lush, who recently announced a comeback, developed a more ‘pop’ sensibility as their own sound developed). The high-pitched musicality of the vocal sitting on top of reverb-driven guitars and synths punctuated with choruses which simply hold you back against a wall are not something which I’ve recently heard from any other band of this genre. It also feels a decidedly more ‘complete’ offering than their debut, Everything Else Matters – as if that album merely laid the foundations for what is an altogether more widescreen offering here. It’s an intriguing album and one which should definitely be added to your ‘Must Buy’ list. Just remember the earplugs – I’m not taking the blame for any tinnitus which results from extended listens…