(Originally published on The New Sincerity, 2013)
The opening synths burn like an interrupted dream, and as Peter Gosling’s drums throb beneath the poignant sting of bassist Greg Peter, it’s hard to imagine that Decades’ self-titled debut album (out May 14th on White Girl Records) won’t be setting the new standard for reverb-drenched post-punk to come.
For the last two months, I’ve been anxiously waiting for Decades’ album, trying to imagine what twists it could possibly take in light of the lead singles, “Tonight Again” (described above) and the stunning “In Sequins.” Now, as I finally listen to the album in my apartment, I’m watching the early morning rain ricochet off the sidewalks and grass outside. The leaves look as if they could melt from the trees. It’s been too long since I’ve heard a debut this brilliantly executed. The songs drip, they swirl—each creates its own strange pace, its own disorienting rhythms—and Decades feel entirely in control of their touching fragility.
The album simmers and crackles to a close in under 40 minutes, soaked in uncanny melodies. Singer Mike Kaminski’s voice is at once seductive and savage, brimming with a confidence rarely matched by his contemporaries. In a song like “Old & Aging” he slips between the near-whisper of “they ruined you / they ruined everything you do,” and the sharp, cold delivery of “then you die like a baby boy” with chilling, almost indifferent ease. His haunting vocal are matched effortlessly by Justin Lemaire’s dissonant, wire-like guitar, which shivers unsettingly in the background. The following song, “Only After,” is just as unsettling, oscillating between shimmering guitars and foggy melodies as Kaminski coyly declares “I want you to want what I want” as if he might faint or break apart at any moment.
It seems entirely natural that such a dream-like album should end with a frantic, shambolic song called “Washed”—after all, the entire thing sounds subterranean, as if it had been recorded underwater. As guitars swerve wildly around the song’s framework, the rhythm section masterfully pulses forward, Kaminski pleading “release me, release me,” too wildly to truly be in need. And as the song fades, nearly cut short, it seems vital to repeat the experience, to re-indulge in the album’s glimmering hallucinations, to re-experience the painful longing that the band so alluring exudes.
Decades exist at a fascinating intersection: they bleed with the same reverb that has recently come into vogue, but retain a ferocity—even in their most vulnerable moments—that few bands today are willing to embrace. It’s possible to hear traces of Brit-pop in their sound, along with hints of older acts like Echo and the Bunnymen or Pale Saints, but the album shines with its own authority, shrugging its influences away as quickly as possible. Listening to tracks like “In Sequins” or “Any Wonder,” it’s impossible to not hear the hunger that only a band’s debut can capture. There’s no question that Decades mean to break the skin of modern music, and with songs that gleam so eerily, it’s hard to imagine they won’t leave quite a few scars along the way.