Album: Pale Blue Eyes – This House review

New-wave shoegaze and the hope held in moving on

By Craig Howieson

The moments surrounding grief become almost impossible to categorise. Events that seem so vivid that they will be forever lodged in your mind become half-dreamt recollections. Meanwhile the most fleeting moments, that barely registered as the time replay in your mind over and over again. It is one of the reasons grief can be so hard to understand. Everyone’s perception of it is so different, and the events that mark its passing are tempered by our own attempts to overcome the blow we have been dealt. 

The new album from Pale Blue Eyes is undoubtedly touched by grief, namely that experienced by vocalist and guitarist, Matt Board, who lost his mother during its recording, and in relatively quick succession to losing his dad a few years prior. And in mirroring the grieving process This House is full of moments of both piercing clarity and hazy reconciliations. What perhaps is most surprising though is the uplifting arc that the record follows. Embracing 80s synth pop and shoegaze in equal measure there is a defiant danceability to these eleven tracks, that cling to the promise that life goes on, and holds brighter days despite all the challenges we must endure.

There is a comforting fogginess to This House. Synth swirls, driving guitar and a disco pop of bass underpin Boards voice to create an ethereal, party-like atmosphere, that while at times is tear-streaked, is also utterly glorious. Their influences may be quite different but Pale Blue Eyes share the same earnest delivery of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart or The Drums, and bring a modernity to the nostalgia they channel. 

Rarely has an album generated under the weight of loss felt so uplifting, and on This House this trio have given us a unique perspective on moving on while honouring the past.

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