Pinkshinyultrablast has a silly name, but it’s as completely accurate as its self-described thunder pop kung-fu gaze.
Russian quintet Pinkshinyultrablast describes their sound as “thunder pop kung-fu gaze.” Despite the nonsensical nature of that label, their newest effort, Grandfeathered, does a remarkable job of giving it a definition. Its lush, fuzzy, dreamy and destructive soundscapes are sure to give contemporary shoegazers reason to rethink how they’re doing things—and give fans of loud and beautiful music an almost immediate contender for their year-end Top 10.
Heavily distorted and layered with synths and effects pedals, Pinkshinyultrablast focuses on the beauty of their compositions more so than merely creating a wall of trance-inducing sound. With Lyubov Soloveva and her understated, lovely vocals adding sugar to the mix, the band achieves that sonic wall with a pop sensibility and an ear for melody that is sure to entice a wider audience. Regardless of what separates them from their base genre, they do well to not completely remove themselves from their roots. The noisy, droning trances that stem from studio production and song length are present, but the band uses that to its advantage, wrapping listeners in a heavy blanket of gorgeous sound that makes their music, despite its length, feel almost too short. Grandfeathered is an all-inclusive record that will make shoegazers swoon and casual music fans willingly step out of their comfort zones.
The opening track, fittingly entitled “Initial,” may fool listeners into believing this is a record full of sampled-drums and programming. Sizzling electronics and layered percussion sets the shoegaze vibe, but doesn’t quite fit within the confines of that label. The track’s title suggests this is merely an introduction, but this may be the most complete opening piece you’ll get your hands on. It’s as noisy and massive as shoegaze, but offers a way in for those unfamiliar with the genre, and has an arc and scope that belies its title.
Due to its thick guitars, the beastly “Glow Vastly” is a bit frantic to start, but it settles into a dreamscape of sound. While the lyrics are almost completely unintelligible, Soloveva’s vocals contribute to the dreaminess, adding a light and sweet twee to the mix. The follow-up, “I Catch You Napping” is similarly airy but less reliant on fuzzy distortion. A delay effect on the clean guitars enhances the mood and strikes a new balance between the music and the vocals. It can blow out speakers, but in both beauty and vision this is mostly a dance in the clouds.
“Kiddy Pool Dreams” is one of the album’s heaviest, most upbeat tracks. Its stellar palm-muted and hammered on and off guitar riff would fit nicely on a power metal album, and makes the song an all-encompasing experience. It’s metal, it’s indie-pop it’s a fantastic display of synthesizers and ultimately a completely enjoyable, joyous romp of a song.
With the album this stuffed with excellence, it’s hard to believe that one track packs all of the record’s previous goodness into five minutes. “The Cherry Pit,” with its delay pedals, massive guitars and oddly danceable beat is Grandfeathered’s finest piece, musically tremendous and displays Soloveva’s vocals as not just an element of the band, but as an integral, indispensible aspect of their sound.
“Mölkky” and the title track round out the album, both effectively using all of the established elements to ensure a satisfying conclusion. “Grandfeathered” in particular reaches similar heights as “The Cherry Pit,” but doesn’t quite match it. Still, with its staggering volume and vocal sugar, it finishes off the album with power and cacophonous beauty.
Pinkshinyultrablast has a silly name, but it’s as completely accurate as its self-described thunder pop kung-fu gaze. The band has added new and invigorating elements to its shoegaze base, and its self-awareness and lack of pretension gives them the headspace not to recreate the wheel, but get it turning in a different direction. Grandfeathered is a special record. Just listen, you’ll see.