Song: Punchlove – Solstice // Ghost review

by Gemma Laurence

Long live the Brooklyn DIY scene. At least that’s what I found myself thinking as I lost myself in a mass of head-banging NYU students and other twenty-somethings at The Broadway (a hip used-to-be-1920’s film house in Bushwick that now hosts a slew of local indie bands), jamming to rising NYC shoegaze group, Punchlove. Swimming in a sea of grungy electric guitar riffs and psychedelic melodies, Punchlove’s audience was submerged in groove. Some might even say ‘lost in the sauce’.

At least I was. Singing along to their indie rock bangers like In Reverse, I was most captivated by their two new singles: Solstice and Ghost, which came out as a double-single that night. 

Listening through Solstice // Ghost the next day, I found myself transported back into the dark purple glow of The Broadway at midnight – surrounded by a sweaty mass of people swaying to the same trippy shoegaze riffs and sound effects that shot across the room like comets. Magnetic, expansive, and not to mention totally psychedelic, Punchlove’s latest release goes above and beyond what the group has put out before.

The double-single opens with Solstice  a dark and beguiling slow-burner with an experimental shoegaze/dream pop energy. Think Alvvays-meets-Slowdive, but with more of a fuzzy lo-fi vibe. Frontwoman Jill Olesen’s hazy vocals blend into a dreamy soundscape of washed out harmonies, as a mottling of cinematic textures and sounds weave in and out of piercing guitar licks. Written in the midst of the pandemic and the Australian wildfires, Olesen wrote the song as a kind of ‘foreboding siren song’ (which she shared in an interview with Bands Do BK). Expansive and nebulous, the loose disarray of Solstice reflects the global level of destruction that the song explores. It also offers a contrast to the second track on the double-single, Ghost, an equally moody track with more of a tightly packaged feel. 

If Solstice throws listeners into some abstract celestial space, Ghost brings us back down to earth with the jarring shatter of industrial soundbites, heavy-hitting drums, and synth-heavy melodies. Contrasting against Olesen’s ethereal falsetto on Solstice, Ghost features Ethan Williams’ understated vocals, which offer a conversational tone to the track. And instead of extending outwards towards the global level of trauma that Solstice tackles head first, Ghost reaches inwards, exploring guilt and fatalism with a vulnerable touch. 

The two tracks flow seamlessly into each other, creating an eight-minute-long experience that highlights what Punchlove do best: put on a darn good show.They recently sold out Bowery Ballroom, NY, and they’re already going onto even bigger and better things. Punchlove is a band to look out for. Catch them while you can.

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