Three years following their debut EP Gradient comes Tremolow, the long awaited album from Brisbane band The Creases, launching straight off the bat into a more defined and melancholic synth pop sound. Over twelve tracks is a joyride that infuses the youthful enjoyment of growing up, while that quarter life crisis lurks around the corner – the feeling of uncertainty when you realise you’re actually an adult and your youth is slowly slipping away. But the album is bursting with optimism, as if this feeling has been accepted and you are ready to take on the next part of your life.
When Gradient arrived we were served with enchanting indie pop laced with gloomy guitar riffs that scooped a tunnel out of shoe gaze’s endless vortex. With Tremolow we are fed a more brushed up post-punk britpop sound that manifests dooming neo-psychedelia inside a late noughties indie disco. The tunes are more polished, dancey, and catchy, while still holding the disconnected ambience of their earlier efforts. But this is definitely not a bad thing – here we are seeing a band making a progression that sounds so natural while the potential is still embedded among its quality. It’s as if the earlier elements of their work developed individually, and now share an equal amount of time in the spotlight.
Take the video for single ‘In My Car’ for example. The band play as silhouettes in front of a neon desert screen, while the track remains present as it daydreams off to itself. It’s that intelligent kid in high school who is constantly enthralled in a spaced-out sonic daydream. With an enormous squealing powerhouse riff over fuzzy chords, it feels like a naturally confident progression for the band. There are a lot of ideas floating around in this one song – under the wall of sound there is a tight little catchy pop tune urging for you to find it, but when the bigger picture is happily dancing right in front of you, all you can really do is oblige and enjoy the ride.
Under the evocative psychedelic synth sounds of ‘In My Car’ is a more humble craft of songwriting. Opener ‘Answer To’ is 80s pub rock heaven with a dark past, almost like Paul Kelly practising black magic while somehow sounding right at home as a track for a coming of age movie set in Melbourne’s inner city; the bright future before things come crashing down. Sister song ‘Everybody Knows’ works as a sensible conclusion – the track for the final scene of that aforementioned film, with vocalist Joe Agius fittingly bellowing “It doesn’t matter, I’m getting out of this place”. They both have that classic brit-pop vibe that is drenched in urban scenery and a smokey atmosphere, capturing the minor highs of life’s mundane routine.
Lead single ‘Is It Love’ takes the route of a gig ready sing-along. The dancey indie rock tune is a throwback to those dance-punk anthems of the late noughties like Two Door Cinema Club, who the band recently supported on their Australian tour. Following the album’s lighter moments is ‘Asshole’, a track destined for crowd favourite status with the lyrical anecdote “You’re an asshole, but you don’t know”.
Yet as the album bridges into its latter moments there is a slight shift in tone – ‘Do What U Wanna’ is fun and youthful with a synth hook from out of space; a reminder that something is still not quite right. Penultimate track ‘Were Young’ fits this theme perfectly, borrowing vocals from Melbourne’s Ali Barter, but it’s not until the album’s closing moment where we find the most post-punk heavy and poignant track ‘Something’s Gotta Break’. It leaves us with a sense of acceptance, yet there is a flirting realisation that things may not always be okay. The fuzzy guitar pop verses are strikingly beautiful and full of mystique, and with the lyrics“Why’d you have to run? how’d you come undone this way?”, it escalates itself to a climax of falsely promised happiness. It achieves a universally young adult feeling through its bubbling guitar shredding and animated crusade alone.
The Creases’ debut is stunningly refreshing and although it draws heavily from sounds of former decades, it still cements itself as astonishingly relevant in a time where a perplexing feeling of uncertainty is shared by many. Here, the band has certainly progressed to poppier levels while achieving sharper songwriting and evoking a melancholic sense of optimism throughout the album. It sounds tentative with itself, but that’s okay too.
Check out our interview with The Creases about their new record here.