War Tapes are a fine sample of a burgeoning group of artists
whose trance-like spirals and synth textured psychedelics harbor a
chill-out vibe that garners riffs garbed in shoegazy esthetics. The
band's latest record The Continental Divide has common denominators
relatable to a sect of modern artists who have been lumped in the
newly dubbed chillwave for its likeness to '80s new wave complexions
and its throng of fluidly sonic raptures. War Tapes are more than
new wave revivalists, their music pervades a contemporary glint reflective
of The Airborne Toxic Event and an oasis-like plumage that
shares links to Klaxons and Amazing Baby. Their music
ejects dreamy rays that expand and retract in a harmonious choir of
glittering crystals and melodic swells that make their songs picturesque
and aurally pleasing.
The dreamy sonic effects and billowing flourishes in tracks like
"The Night Unfolds" and "Dreaming Of You" are
fringed in crackling slashes, and the pockets of crescendos that litter
"She Lied" are nicely stoked by Neil Popkin's vocals.
The echoey resonance of Popkin and Matt Bennett's guitar effects
in the channels of "Start Again" are buckled in gentle,
wavy motions, and the lustrous shimmers of his guitar strings in "All
The World's A Stage" produce slippery glides and massive entanglements
that beef up the synth-embossed craters. The dance-pop grooves of
"Mind Is Ugly" are pillared in columns of guitar distortions,
and hydroplaned synths that morph into dales of rocky tremors along
"For Eternity" before closing with the soft flusters of
the piano-driven ballad "Fast Lane." Popkin's vocal arches
are lush, merging with the glistening guitar effects that sink into
the staunch rhythmic beats of bassist Becca Popkin and drummer
William Mohler, making for a harmonious union.
War Tapes' album suffers from the pitfall that many synth-inspired
artists fall into, which is repeating their sound track after track.
Their music starts out dabbling in experimental rock, but by the middle
of the record the songs begin sounding the same and [become] hard
to differentiate from one another. The entangling effects and seraphim-wrapped
layers are the result of heavy duty production work which gives the
band's tracks volume but not necessarily substance. The album is aurally
pleasing but lacks the individuality that the songs could have.
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