Release Date: Mar 2, 2015
Record label: No Pain in Pop
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Dream Pop, Shoegaze
After releasing Wild Peace, a promising debut album that blended the shoegaze richness of bands like My Bloody Valentine with dream pop sweetness, Echo Lake retreated to their friend Misha Herring's studio to work on the follow-up, 2015's Era. The process took two years and found the band stretching and reshaping its sound into something epic and sweeping. Wild Peace was a series of short, murky pop songs overloaded with guitars and topped by vocalist Linda Jarvis' dulcet tones; here, the band takes its time building the songs, with over half the seven on the album going beyond the six-minute mark.
Echo Lake’s second album Era begins with a song which starts as the sort of foreboding electronica suggestive of the intergalactic apocalypse of Fuck Buttons. It then transforms itself into something properly unexpected: the shimmery, sparkly, reverby shores of Echo Lake’s first album. Well, ok. Not that unexpected.
The release of the first Echo Lake full-length proper, ‘Wild Peace’, in June 2012 was overshadowed by the passing in the same month of the South London group’s drummer Pete Hayes. It’s taken two and a half years for this follow-up, ‘Era’, to see the light of day, and again there’s the strong possibility that it might fly under the radar, given the uncommonly strong release schedule that has kicked off 2015 - one that shows no sign of abating. That’d be a crying shame if it were to happen, because again, Echo Lake have managed to take a slew of barely-original touch points and make something genuinely intriguing about them.
The release of Echo Lake's excellent mini album Young Silence in 2010 very quickly established them as heavy hitters in the densely populated dream-pop/shoegaze oeuvre, a position which was consolidated by a very well received LP in Wild Peace two years later. It’s clear pretty much from the first listen to Era that it represents a creative shift for Echo Lake. One of the major strengths of Wild Peace was the way it submerged sharp, concise (if slightly warped) pop songs in an opulent fuzz, but it occasionally left you pondering just how far they could take things if they indulged themselves a little.
Prior to the release of their first album, 2012’s Wild Peace, Echo Lake lost their mercurial drummer Pete Hayes, who passed away at the cruelly young age of twenty five. In the three years since, songwriters Thom Hill and singer Linda Jarvis regrouped and started writing again and with Era, Echo Lake have delivered a startling return. At just over 45 minutes long it features seven songs, but there’s nothing indulgent here - indeed, the brevity that’s applied to each song means the music doesn’t drag or dip once.