Around this time last year, the indie rock landscape was littered with beach imagery and vintage sounding bubblegum pop and punk singles. There were Best Coast’s heartbroken but nonetheless cheery laments caked in reverb and marijuana smoke, as well as Beach Fossils’ hazy memories and Wavves’ acid-fried coastal jaunts, not to mention the false memory inception spillover from the Great Chillwave Caper of 2009. And, for a time, it was pretty fun. But based on the type of bands to gain notoriety since then, from the UK’s Esben and the Witch to Los Angeles’ Zola Jesus and Toronto’s Austra, the sun has more or less gone back into hiding and the creepily glamorous creatures of the night have taken over.
One such darkly synthetic act invoking the expressive and dark atmosphere of artists such as The Knife and Bat for Lashes is Stripmall Architecture, formed by Ryan and Rebecca Coseboom following the dissolution of the duo’s prior band Halou. The group’s new EP, Feathersongs for Factory Girls (Part Two), is an impressive, albeit brief glimpse into their haunting yet upbeat and powerful indie pop. Ironically, this short player begins with a track called “Daylight Machine,” yet the eerie, gothic synthesizers are anything but catalysts for sunshine. Rather, the track approximates Metric by way of The Knife, danceable and straightforward, but steeped in creepy atmosphere. Meanwhile, “Feathersong” cruises on a laid back, ambient groove and “Lemoncholic” backs Rebecca Coseboom’s lovely chirps with heavy drums and a simple, albeit infectious chorus. Yet best of all is “Ownsome,” which juxtaposes fuzzy electric guitars with xylophones and even more hard-hitting drums, converging in a stylish and highly accessible standout.
While Stripmall Architecture is by no means the most morose of dressed-in-black Class of 2011, their stylishly dark sensibility makes for an intriguing and ultimately easy to love listening experience. And for that matter, their songwriting chops make for stellar singles. In 20 minutes, Feathersongs for Factory Girls only offers a small taste of Stripmall Architecture’s gothic dream pop, but it’s a satisfying and impressive sampling of what this band has to offer.
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.