Over the last decade, Jack Donoghue, John Holland and former member Heather Marlatt's influence as SALEM loomed heavily over popular culture's darker corners. With witch house - a sound that was pioneered in part by their 2010 debut album 'King Night' - they impacted the likes of Charli XCX's earlier work, as well as making their way onto the multiple film soundtracks, with Donoghue also contributing to Kanye West's seminal Yeezus album. Despite this recognition, witch house, and indeed SALEM at times, have sometimes been perceived as a punchline in a joke about early 2010's cool that doesn't seem to tell their full story.
When the trio of Midwest malcontents in SALEM released their first EPs over a decade ago, they, like many young people in America, were staring down a dead end. As the critic Larry Fitzmaurice pointed out last year in an essay reflecting on the legacy of chillwave, much of the music that arrived in the early '10s was implicitly engaged with the turbulence of the era. Still dealing with the hangover of two interminable wars, and with economic prospects decimated by the long wake of the 2008 financial crisis, it was hard for many to feel hopeful.