Ideal Form by topographiesRelease date: December 4, 2020
Label: Funeral Party Records
SF post punk group topographies may remind you strongly of The Cure, and for good reason. Band leader Gray Tolhurst is the son of former Cure drummer/keyboardist Lol Tolhurst, and his group seems to have absorbed that rain-soaked 80s post punk sound by osmosis. The infectious but stormy dark grooves are coupled with catchy melodies that are sure to get your toes tapping.
Ideal Form is the band’s debut, and what a great start this is. The band formed in 2018 with Justin Oronos, Jeremie Ruest, and Tolhurst. They released two 7” records (including one on venerable British label Sonic Cathedral) as well as a cassette EP, Difference & Repetition with San Diego’s DREAM Recordings. The album encompasses eight tracks, framed by Ruest’s atmospheric guitar work, nimble bass work from Oronos, and Tolhurst’s poetic lyrics. It was engineered by Chris King of Cold Showers and mastered by Rafael Anton Irisarri.
Just as bands like The Cure intrigued me because of their darkness, I was also enchanted when they cracked open the door and let the light pour in. topographies pulls off a similar trick with the massive hooks they sprinkle throughout their post punk. Case in point is the gorgeous ‘This Evening Also’. The opening bass line may trick you into thinking this is standard fare for post punk, but you may be surprised at how they expand their sonic tapestry with languid vocals and the icy, marble-laced synth lines. I imagine myself in a large, empty room with this music bouncing off the walls in all directions. ‘Mirror’ is less sanguine, and more what you’d expect from dark wave. It quite possibly sounds the most Cure-like, which is a good launching pad for these other tunes. ‘False Desire’ beckons you to dive further into this web of sound, and before you know it, you may find yourself ensnared.
‘Image’ is gloomy and marvelous, the perfect rainy day soundtrack. The band has a perfect handle on their sound, so intricately is this wave of sound woven together. ‘See You As You Fall’ is downright uplifting by comparison to its companion tracks, and it has deep hooks at its heart. Beautiful and heart-breaking, all at the same time. ‘Lonely Figure’ dials down the light to murky morning, and stays there for the duration. Yet, I find myself bouncing in my chair by the pulsating bass and drums. ‘Rose of Sharon’ is the single I latched onto when I first heard this, and it’s a wonderful example of this genre.
The final tune is ‘A Wine Dark Sea’, which may be the most perfectly named song here. It has an exciting dynamic, and that smooth bass just carries you away on the nearest wave. It reminds me the most of bands like The Sound, who surely must be on this band’s playlist. They are masters of their musical domain, and this dark marvel of a record is one of the best in this genre you will hear this year. Highly recommended!