Yama Uba - Silhouettes
Released: January 24
Silhouettes plays out like someone dug up a time capsule from the 80s filled with all of the best pop, goth, and glam rock albums the era, blended them together, listened to the whole thing, then threw it away and played it the way they wanted it to be. It has all the nostalgic trappings without getting bogged down by sentimentality for a time gone, instead using the spirit of the sound to tell a new story. Track by track, everything works together perfectly - the guitar tones are impeccable throughout and the tight percussion keeps things rolling along while the airy reverb-tinged vocals tell stories and poems of personal transformation and change. And, for me a least, some well-placed saxophone riffs and the perfect extra flavor to it all.
While the album maintains its goth and glam rock base, Yama Ubu takes a lot of chances throughout to inflect the littlest bits of modern sound design, rather than relying on the old standby sounds of the era. "Shatter" largely downplays the guitar tones of other tracks and instead gives us more modern synth tones in their places alongside with some peculiar vocal processing. The next track takes us right back to that recalls the sound of goth rock giants like The Cure and Echo and the Bunnymen with a bit of a heavier guitar tone giving a nod to punk and post-punk influences.
But a big strength of the album is the way it plays with atmosphere and the placement/prominence of its various elements. I can't think of a better example than the final track "Angel." Here, the vocals are still present but taking a backseat to the elements around it, giving priority to the beat and the ambiance of a large room. Everything is brilliantly washed in a shatter-y reverb with certain sparkle that is accentuated when that saxophone drops in again