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Tears Run Rings

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I really like this record, and have listened to it a lot over the past few months, but have had a hard time writing a review of it. You see, Tears Run Rings don't really do anything new. Heck, even their name is derivative, taken from a song by Marc Almond for which he had a minor US video hit in 1988. However, well, they do what they do well. Really well, in fact. This is a stunner of a dreampop record, coming out in a year where there were a lot of good dreampop records (see also: Tamaryn, Beach House, Puro Instinct).

Tears Run Rings remind me of a specific point in dreampop history, and that is Slowdive. The band channel the spirit of Slowdive from various stages of their career. Specifically, TRR use male and female vocal interplay from Matthew Bice and Laura Watling atop a dense sound based on distorted guitar and strong rhythms. Either you like this, or you don't. TRR aren't earning any new fans, so their strength is also their weakness. This is an album for fans of this genre, and might not appeal to non-fans.

Some background: Tears Run Rings are a west coast dreampop band who have just released their second full-length album on Clairecords. They are a four-piece act who all live in different cities. This album was created through the magic of file sharing, each recording individually then someone editing all the tracks together. Interesting from a technological perspective, but not really important to the music.

Their real masterpiece is Forgotten, which is six minutes of tight, effected guitar and the voices singing counterpoint to each other. There is a veritable ton of tremolo used here, the guitars wavering like an early Stratford 4 tune. Bice sings his part in a disaffected manner, while Watling sings a reply that is almost lost in the guitar haze. Really nice, and a standout track in this genre.

Another standout on the record is title track Distance. This song begins painfully slow and with lots of echo. It reminds me of Blue Skied an' Clear-era Slowdive in that it has a painful clarity and crispness to it, while at the same time being light and spacey, like a daydream you have while half staring out the window of a moving train, the countryside sort of integrated into your thoughts, but not really. The song builds and builds to a real frenzy that is as lovely as it is unexpected.

I love this type of music, and i can put this album on and just let it play, but i suspect that many people will become bored with the repetitive nature of the songs. They tend to be heavily effected and to grow into a swirling mass of distortion then retreat into a more minimal phase, then repeat all over again. If you enjoy Alison's Halo, the noisier moments of Slowdive, or Malory, then this will definitely appeal to you.

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