Shoegaze fades in and out of fashion, but has always been a sonically dense and beautiful musical genre, with melodies, vocals and guitars drenched in reverb and atmosphere. Daniel Brown’s solo project Polaroids of Polarbears is the latest local act wrestling with this ethereal sound on his new album ‘Breathe In’.
There’s a sense of ambience among the shoegaze, with vocals floating in the background above silence, walls of fuzzy reverbed guitars, and lo-fi production, although that gets shot to pieces on When You’re Falling Awahuri Road when the guitars appear centre stage and get very loud very abruptly.
Over 10 songs, Brown navigates the boundaries and limitations of echo, although The Moon Knows Of My Sharp Tongue extends the intensity of sound to include muted verses and delicate guitar notes before the intensity once again bursts through on the chorus.
The scattershot guitar opening and infectious rhythm of Paper Tigers Roar At Paper Planes are a burst of energy onto the album, and the song is an unexpected pop gem.
‘Breathe In’ is a lovely record, but the details often get submerged by the heavy layering of instruments and echo – a shame, as there is plenty of detail to be found hidden in the songs.
Recorded in a shed in Feilding with Brown on guitars and drums, ‘Breathe In’ may lack the sonic expertise of more established shoegaze/ambient acts, but is a heady experience that shows Brown’s ambition for his music.