Dead Awake by Black Doldrums

Release date: February 28, 2022
Label: Fuzz Club

North London trio Black Doldrums love to dabble in the black arts of gothic psych/post-punk or whatever you want to call it. Picking up fans from some rather excellent EPs, they now unleash their long awaited debut album Dead Awake after a rather belated wait.

It’s rather obvious from the start too, that the band have stepped up a notch as the wonderful, swirling riff of ‘Sad Paradise’ casts its glissando glow over a dark heart. Produced by Jared Artaud of The Vacant Lots, you sense that bands interior darkness suffusing itself over the music here, but also makes it much more accessible than before. The music may be dark, but there is a lightness of touch to it which gives the songs an almost sprightly feel.

Of course, we’re not talking summertime here (unless its the blues) but there is a certain bounce to a track like Sleepless Nights which brings to mind the ecstatic feel that shoe-gaze could elevate in you. Here it’s not as in your face, and instead its subdued wall of sound makes a play for early New Order just before they discovered dance music. Not so much hands in the air, but hands certainly grasped in elation.

It’s interesting that this communal feel came of a collaboration which spanned the Atlantic ocean, but as the band state, they found they spent more time making an effort to communicate than they might have done within the studio. The distance allows for moments of reflection on the music being created, and plays into a more spacious feel. The reverbed echo of ‘Now You Know This’ becomes borne from the vibrations of communication felt over the distance.

As with all great trio’s there is a compact sound to them which emanates power and you feel that they are at times poised to unleash an absolute wall of sound. Instead they restrain themselves and concentrate on on album which sets their stall out as ones to watch. Across these eight tracks there is a promise of something much greater to come, and you feel that they may well be capable of making some rather classic alums. As it stands, Dead Awake is an excellent debut which takes that early promise and excitement and moulds it into something completely career worthy.

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