Release Date: Feb 26, 2016
Record label: Shellshock
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Shoegaze
It’s early 2016, and we’ve started it with a positivity deficit. The taste of death is on everyone’s lips. How can I gaze up at the stars or into a painting? How will the flowers bloom in the sunshine of early spring? Where are our comrades and our mentors now? Are they just particles burned to ash floating into a vast emptiness or buried in the earth? I feel confined, suffocating on social media and recycled office air.
When Russia's Pinkshinyultrablast released their long awaited debut Everything Else Matters almost a year ago to the day, it revitalised a genre. Quite rightly heralded as shoegaze due to its affluent use of ethereal sounds, pedals operating as touchpapers between loud and quiet effects and shimmering melodies, the record made a lot of the scene's leading protagonists take a step back and reevaluate their own wares. While certain reference points will always be difficult to shed – the likes of My Bloody Valentine and the Cocteau Twins paved the way for song structures of this nature to exist in the first place – Pinkshinyultrablast have clearly taken that blueprint and added their own inimitable take to such an extent that many of their peers now cite them as an influence.
Russian shoegaze band Pinkshinyultrablast didn't waste time working on their second album, Grandfeathered, which arrived a year after their 2015 debut, Everything Else Matters. Within that brief time period, the group already seems to have absorbed new influences and tried out different approaches to composition. One of the album's songs is titled "Glow Vastly," but it might as well be called "Grow Vastly." While Everything Else Matters proved that Pinkshinyultrablast were adept at creating dreamy, overdriven shoegaze with nods to 2010s-era indie electronic pop, on Grandfeathered they add an intriguing prog rock element to their sound, twisting and contorting time signatures and typically building tracks out to epic six-minute lengths.
With the possible exception of Godsmack, no band name is more indicative of a main influence than Pinkshinyultrablast. It was previously the title of the third LP by Astrobrite, a continuation of the similarly, evocatively named lovesliescrushing, projects that approached shoegaze while maintaining a basis in electronic noise—other "truth in advertising" Astrobrite releases include Whitenoise Superstar and Supercrush. It’s a style far more obtuse than the guitar-pop model that spawned genre titans like My Bloody Valentine and Ride, which also means it’s never as overexposed.
Upon the release of their first record, ‘Everything Else Matters’, last year, Russian five-piece pinkshinyultrablast were defined by the amount of unadulterated noise the group could create, delivering a record that saw how much space they could create with a few pedals and the seemingly unending canvas they drew on. Now returning with their second, the similarly expansive ‘Grandfeathered’, the impressive nature of layers the group create are now familiar, it’s when looking for something emotionally satiable that it concerns. Their ability to create vast ambience within a structure of intemperance is immediately apparent as ‘Glow Vastly’ begins, the addition of subtle synth layers adding an extra touch of fragility that adds a grounded feeling to their compositions, yet those elements together jar.
I’m thinking not since t.A.T.u.’s arguably stilted lesbianism or Pussy Riot’s free-speech legal quandaries have Russian pop/rock musicians made such inroads at least into the indie music sites and blogs as “shoegazers” Pinkshinyultrablast. The bonus is that the St. Petersburg quintet find themselves squarely on the lips and ears of the industry media because of their music rather than as tabloid fodder.