Evan Abeele (composer) and Denise Nouvion (vocalist) formed dream poppers Memoryhouse back in 2009, in Guelph Ontario, Canada. Signed to Sub Pop label, ‘Soft Hate’ is the second album of Memoryhouse after a long wait of four years. The predecessors? Their debut full-legth ‘The Slideshow Effect’, two singles (‘Lately’ and ‘Caregiver’) and ‘The Years’ EP.
‘The Years’ EP was hazy and ethereal, coloured by a 4AD bliss. ‘The Slideshow Effect’ was more poppy and less hazy than ‘The Years’, full of winter feeling, but sounding also very warm, and charming vocals by Denise Nouvion. ‘Soft Hate’ (released on 9th February) sounds a little different from its predecessors.
The production is airy, clear and aboveboard, heavier and sharper. Instruments and rhythm section are more complex and the songs flow into more up-tempo, brighter and faster rhythms; their music has evolved since their debut.
Listening to their new songs:
‘Get Back’ presents an easy listening pop refrain into a buzzing bass and a complex drum web. ‘Arizona’ is heavy, with orbicular driving bass, guitar tremolo, built slowly into a cyclical rhythm section. ‘Dream Shake’ is the first single of the album with high energy, fast rhythm and a beautiful video clip. The ambient minute of ‘In The Woods’, prepares our ears for the most beautiful song of the album, ‘Sarah’: “You’ve been dead / and I can’t forget / Sarah, Sarah, go home, run away, run”. Strange and haunting lyrics (and video) contrary to the music which is melodic, pretty beautiful, and warm; a really awesome song. The second highlight is the next song ‘Knife In The Water’, an epic, mid-tempo track with a minor excellent melody. ‘It Was True’ is calm and peaceful, yet ‘Honey Baby Darling’ and ‘Laney’ give a kind of happy, dream indie pop finale to the album, music-wise at least, because lyrics like “fuck all your dreams, they’re not all they seem, just leave them alone”, “I don’t believe in your fate”, “You’ve been dead and I can’t forget” are cynical and sarcastic. As is the album cover art, with the face of Denise covered by a broken and probably burnt piece of glass, which shows a new enigmatic profile of the singer. Her voice is pretty brilliant, like a soft and gentle kiss. It’s important to say, that Denise, a 20-year-old girl, is a visual artist, a photographer and a musician signed to Sub Pop records. She is quite a wonder!
Listening to this album fills your mind and heart with spring landscapes, clear air, shadowy forest fields and a feeling of longing, of letting go. The ‘difficult’ second album of Memoryhouse is a brilliant reality. A cool forest breeze you can breathe in again and again.