The Dutch electronic duo deliver a debut album of the highest quality.
Presenting themselves as the latest scintillating act to arise from the impressive Dutch electronic scene, the Tilburg duo grace our soundwaves with their expansive debut album, ‘Too Serene For Comfort’. A focused and cohesive body of work, the self-dubbed ‘ElectroNoiseTripPopRock’ outfit engage in a gratifying trade-off between exuberance and tranquillity, with their vast exploration into a myriad of subgenres generating an album whose electronic scope ranges from the big beat distorted bass synths to the sharp, metallic traits of tech-house. Produced entirely using a combination of Logic Pro X and SE Electronics X1 A, the duo left no sound behind at the studio, resulting in a comprehensive body of work, whose dense layering incites a commanding experience.
ShadowLush’s eclectic taste invokes a mystical aura, through which the direction of each track remains enticingly unpredictable. Opening with the resonant synths and entwined melodies, ‘Humble’ immediately presents the duo’s more graceful side, before abruptly transitioning into a punchy, bass-heavy passage, where their dynamic soundscape is quickly made apparent. Far from being a conventional approach to contemporary musical composition, the duo’s uniquely structured tracks signify an important mark of identity, with their nuanced understanding of structural arrangement allowing them to effortlessly switch between different styles. This frequently prompts moments of chaotic brilliance, such as the relentless UK grime percussion on ‘Bodacious Fruitcake’, which combined with the high frequency, wavering synths, propels the listener into an otherworldly drum and bass experience. Similar pandemonium presents itself across the animated ‘Shadowlush’, where the unremitting breakbeat, warped vocals and obtrusive bass ignites a concoction you’d expect to hear from a studio session with The Prodigy.
Given the overwhelming reverb and intermittent stages of ethereality, you’d certainly be forgiven for allowing your mind to bask in the frenetic haze of callous synths and entrancing beats. But a prominent feature throughout the tracklist, the distorted, cloudy vocal performances provide a cutting edge to the album, projecting the duo’s immersive lyrics while rendering yet another fascinating layer to be divulged. The opening ‘Humble’ welcomes themes of societal awareness, with the lyrics, “But you’ll fail us like the last one” casting feelings of distrust and hopelessness. Similar themes are explored on the piano fronted ‘Cough It Up’, where the duo’s scrutiny of financial greed incites witty sarcasm within the lyric, “who ever said morals get you anywhere?”. Bearing a certain element of post-punk, these consciously glum lyrics offer a fitting compliment to the harshly mixed tracks. This punk attitude materialises through other mediums on ‘Sweet Consensus By Default’, a 7-minute industrial epic, whose menacing riff and pulsating tempo provide a real sense of release.
Consumed by the colossal weight of reverb which fills the mix, the album’s abstract vibrations seemingly inspire the duo to also explore themes of absence and solitude. The bass-driven ‘Waiting’ directly touches on this, with its bouncy groove and mellow cries of, “Lonely, and forever lost” conjuring up an image of the singer helplessly floating out across the seven seas. One of the more pop inspired tracks on the album, the inclusion of the Gorillaz-esque warped vocal effect issues a vivid depiction of the suffocating lyric which states, “(It’s) hard to breathe here”. Feeling incarcerated by their surroundings, ‘The Shore’ offers a mark of salvation for the duo, with its spacious abstract synths powerfully evoking the serenity which lies above the water, where they “have reached the shore”. These discomforting predicaments haunt the duo right up to the closing ‘Forsaken Place’, whose realisation that “nothing ever changes” concludes the album on a rather despondent, yet impactful tone.
An emphatic debut release whose dynamic approach immediately sets ShadowLush apart from their contemporaries, the duo’s notable soundscape resembles an artist who’s already mastered their craft. Delivering a calculated fusion of a range of genres, ‘Too Serene For Comfort’ allows the hypnotic elements of the bittersweet ‘A Brand New Shine’ to exist alongside the spiralling synth-wave harmonies of ‘Insular Rebuttals’. Confident, assured, and audacious, the accomplished Dutch duo have constructed a phenomenal body of work, whose experimental and progressive songwriting denotes a duology who’s destined for greatness.