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Album reviews
Artist:
Zoon
Album:
Bleached Wavves
Release year:
2020
Label:
Paper Bag
25 June 2020 / by Alexander Ramsay (author)

Genre: shoegaze, dream pop

Shoegaze - by its very nature - can often seem stagnant. The lo-fi vulnerability of Isn’t Anything, the swooning guitar work on Souvlaki or the airy melancholy of Cocteau Twins all loom so large over the genre that most bands under the shoegaze label will be inevitably compared to any and/or all of them at some point. With Bleached Wavves however, Daniel Monkman a.k.a Zoon has merged the template laid out by those bands with the hypnotic sound of traditional Indigenous music to craft one of the most exciting and unique Canadian records of the year. 

 

Across the 29 minutes of Bleached Wavves, Monkman seeks healing from generational trauma, racism and the long-lasting effects of colonialism within the record’s shimmering instrumentation. “Was and Always Will Be” is structured like an Indigenous chant while on “Infinite Horizons”, Monkman provides a thick instrumental backdrop to a poem from Spoken Word artist Jesse Davidson. “This is my attempt to reveal our truth through your language/several times while travelling to the sun I was faced by the ghosts of my ancestors,” Davidson says before adding: “they explain it is them who saw me born into so much pain/pain that I now attempt to hide from your people/I understand that pain now, I know it is strength.”  

 

For its heavy themes however, Monkman knows when to let the record just rock. The distorted house-like dance of “Landscapes” feels like some sort of distant relative of My Bloody Valentine’s “Soon” while the instrumental noise pop of “Brokenhead” recalls Dandy Warhols at their heaviest. Along with artists like Kraus and Ringo Deathstarr, Monkman clearly knows when to use percussion to propel the music forward. 

If Bleached Wavves suffers, it's when Monkman lets the percussion fade into the background or disappear completely. The slow motion dreamscape of "Light Prism" is pleasant but feels the least uniquely Zoon-like on the album while the two tracks "Clouded Formation" and "A Perfect Sunset Ahead" are far too short to leave any kind of meaningful impression.

Monkman has crafted an exciting debut record that - with rare exceptions - feels like it has its own unique identity among the plethora of dream pop and noise pop bands coming out of Canada.

 

Rating: 8/10


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The author

Alexander Ramsay

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