You’ve heard it a thousand times before — the dense washes of reverb-soaked guitar, the dreamy detached vocals, the light-as-air melodies. You’ve got a dozen or more albums that sound like this, with varying degrees of similarity. And yet, you don’t get tired of them. In fact, you can pretty much always go for another one, should it be released. That’s why you and I love Interpol. That’s why TV on the Radio was met with open arms. And that’s why you’re most likely going to listen to Lockgroove over and over again.
Lockgroove, as you might have expected, isn’t doing anything we haven’t heard before. They specialize in catchy, dreamy shoegazer pop music, somewhere between Galaxie 500 and Ride. But they play a surprisingly upbeat and accessible variation on the genre, doing away with Kevin Shields’ impenetrable tidal wave of guitar noise and Slowdive’s druggy melancholy. What’s left is a band that plays it hazy, but clean, putting much more emphasis on melody than dense production.
Calm Right Down, the band’s sophomore effort, is a much tighter album than its predecessor, Sleeping on the Elephant Fog. It’s almost as if the band selectively filtered out every element that keeps droney dream pop bands from achieving perfection. “I’m Leaving” and “Waste My Time” are distorted rock songs that sound as if they’re being transmitted from the heavens, but “The Suicides” is bouncy enough to be an Olivia Tremor Control song and “Faded Sun” takes a cue from Johnny Marr’s famed work with The Smiths. And damned if I don’t hear a little bit of World Party in “Payin’ the Price.” Everything here is altogether enjoyable and lovely, if not absolutely groundbreaking.
A look at the tracklist reveals what would appear to be a downer of a record — “The Suicides,” “Payin’ the Price,” “The Suicide Kings,” “The Worst Mistake,” “Execution Style,” etc. But Calm Right Down is nothing of the sort. Never veering into Joy Division-like levels of bummed-out-ness, Lockgroove never fall into the trap of turning into the next gloomy princes of phase-shifter. They just happen to be a splendid pop band with a penchant for snazzy guitar effects.
Though Lockgroove isn’t challenging the norm, per se, they’re taking an established style and making it interesting for listeners in the twenty-first century. Besides, when can you ever have too much dream pop? I, for one, can’t get enough, and for right now, Lockgroove is doing a fine job of satiating my cravings.
Luna – Days of Our Nights
American Analog Set – Know By Heart
Ride – Nowhere
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.