Fusing early-'80s post-punk with moody synth swirls
The debut full-length by the Portland trio Blouse is full of aural tricks that transport the listener back in time — there’s the occasional bent chord that evokes a cassette accidentally left to bake in a backseat, or the intermittent pause that reminds one of a skipping record. These self-consciously retro touches are in keeping with the band’s overall aesthetic, though; Blouse crafts minimalist, bass-heavy music that fuses the bare-bones aesthetic of early-’80s post-punk with the sort of moody synth swirls that dominate the Projekt Records catalog. Lead singer Charlie Hilton has an airy, removed voice that rarely belies the emotions she’s singing about, although that steely reserve is enough to make one wonder if this album’s working title wasn’t Black MP3s For A Blue Girl. The steadily loping bass lines, played by Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s Jacob Portrait, prevent the sadness from taking over in a self-indulgent way, though; they give the dreary atmosphere enough solid ground to create a space where gloom only takes over for a short while, or at least until the next song starts.