Album Review: Them Are Us Too - Remain

Album Reviews
Gerrit Feenstra

San Francisco has been doing the shoegaze revival right for a while now. There's something about the way bay area indie rock meshes with the sounds of My Bloody Valentine and Ride to give the classic, noisy 80s textures a brisk, airy sensibility, and the denseness of the classics is made new through vibrant and euphoric tone. The city's latest offering comes to us in the form of the 21 year-old duo of Kennedy Ashlyn and Cash Askew, forming together as Them Are Us Too. Remain is their first LP and its a wonderfully warm debut, ripe with Cocteau Twins vibes all around and some great songwriting work from such a young pair.

Them Are Us Too aren’t shy about the era they pull from. It’s easy to draw comparison to the likes of shoegaze and goth bands throughout the 80s. Askew’s choice of production style harks back to the massive, booming, slightly industrial sounds of late 80s, landing itself somewhere between Cocteau Twins and ASDF. Meanwhile, Ashlyn’s melodic lines interpolate massive ranges with ease, giving the whole thing a very true to life throwback feel rather than the modernist interpretations we so often get. But the charm of Remain isn’t found in the throwback for its own sake. Rather, the way that this duo have crafted the record – the chosen sounds, the chosen order, and so forth – makes it a very charming and inviting endeavor, even with the standoffish roots it draws from.

Each of the offerings on this record explore a different facet of this classic genre that Them Are Us Too find themselves so in love with. A drudging bass synth and slow snare guide "Eudaemonia" through classic new wave and goth territory, then things brighten up with "The Problem With Redheads", where Ashlyn floats in celestial space like a young Julee Cruise. The latter six and a half minute burner is pure atmosphere, where layers of droning synthesizers paint a warm, impressionistic landscape as the vocals move in every direction.

The record’s lead single “Us Now” does wonders in introducing us fully to Askew and Ashlyn’s world. Less the vocals, the track sounds like it could have been pulled from Disintegration. Askew’s counterpoint between guitar and bass has a wonderfully harmonic “Pictures of You” type vibe, which a booming bass and snare lay a foundation below. Here (as is also the case pretty much everywhere else on the record) Ashlyn’s voice floats weightlessly across hilltops. She makes the jumps look easy.

Later, the soundscape opens up slightly. "Marilyn" meets a Chromatics-esque foundation with The Cure guitars and an ethereal vocal, making it the most enjoyable and euphoric pop experiences on the record. Then side B goes full atmosphere, diving back underneath the surface for an exploration of early 4AD and Creation sounds galore. "694 Mi" marks one of the most innovative efforts on the record. The slow boom of the drum machine is matched against Askew's "How Soon Is Now?" guitars, while Ashlyn makes one of her most powerful performances on record. This track carries the last quarter of the record forward with brutal grace. While not much is yet known about this young group, their assembly of sounds herein on Remain is impressive - they've done their homework well. The mixture of classic goth and 80s synth soundtrack vibes couldn't be more timely. Remain is an extremely well put together debut, and will guide the band's upcoming tour with ease. You can add Them Are Us Too to your up and coming watch list.

Remain is out now on Dais Records. Grab it on CD or limited run vinyl at the Dais store or at one of their upcoming west coast tour gigs. Them Are Us Too have a whole run of Pacific Northwest dates coming up, including a Seattle stop on April 23, playing Kremwerk. Grab tickets at the door! Check their Facebook for more details.

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