Album Review: Blood and Glass’ Sound is Gaining Ground

Punk Shadows is Submerged in Haunting Vibes

  • Album cover for Blood and Glass’ album, Punk Shadows. Courtesy Sonia Cesaratto

Submerging robots in water is normally a bad idea for several reasons. But for Montreal-based theatrical-nightmare and pop band Blood and Glass, the pairing of the two could not have been a better idea.

Their most recent album Punk Shadows, released in March, combines the theme of water with the sounds of tech in each track. The band is made up of Lisa Iwanycki-Moore on lead vocals and songwriter, Morgan Moore on bass, Robbie Kuster on drums and Melanie Belair on violin.

“I just had the idea of doing a concept album by making every song about anything that was aquatic,” explained Iwanycki-Moore, the singer of the band. “So from [from things like] alcohol in a bar, to a swimming pool, to a submarine.”

The album settles in the nightmare-pop subgenre. It is interpreted through dark tones, but gathers several pop elements such as thumping bass drum beats and fuzzy sounding melodies from a synthesizer.

The urge to work with this particular genre, explained Iwanycki-Moore, was inspired by artists like Siouxsie, the Banshees, and Cyndi Lauper, all of whom gave the band their pop sound. Other bands like Pink Floyd pushed the band to explore different kinds of vocal tones, helping them give their music an odd and darker ambience. The group also takes and interest in artists like Marina Abramovic, Tim Burton and David Lynch.

Punk Shadows opens with “Block of Ice,” which kicks off with an ominous and lonely xylophone tune accompanied by some dark vibes from the synthesizers. Moore softly whispers the lyrics almost as if she’s trying to tell us a secret about the world slowly becoming a colder place to live in.

Her whispered vocals are quickly replaced with a robotic voice, singing one word at a time. This vocal change embellishes a gloomy atmosphere, communicating a message about our tech-centric world.

The slow beat of this tune gave the feeling of slowly sinking deeper and deeper into the dark and murky depths of a bottomless body of water. Moore’s vocals become higher in pitch almost as if an icy grip has a hold of her.

The band flaunted sound combinations in their track, “Submarine,” a song that talks about travelling in an unfamiliar area.

“It’s as if you’re inside a gigantic submarine, and you’re surrounded by all of these foreign creatures, and all of these foreign creatures don’t care who you are,” Moore explained.

This melody begins with different sounds coming from chimes and strings being plucked. The sound of a running engine gets incrementally louder, giving the impression of submerging deeper and deeper into the waters inside this gigantic submarine.

A slow melody on the piano is introduced along with Moore softly singing. The song’s tempo changes once a thumping drum beat is paired with some of the string instruments, the two sounds strongly establishing their presence in the song.

Punk Shadows comes to an end with “Swimming,” which Moore explained is a song about a woman who despises her life in suburbia.

“So she essentially hides in her pool, even after it freezes over,” she added.

The song begins with some slow and broken notes from a wind-up music box, giving the impression of loneliness, sadness, and struggle as the sounds of the wind-up key scratch and whir. The xylophone suddenly sweeps in with Moore’s vocals.

The sound of the wind-up key is reintegrated into the combination of sounds, only to be snuffed out by the kicking beat from the bass drum, and the loud low musical notes from the synthesizers, as if one of the musicians was close to blowing out one of their speakers.

Listening to this track showed how each of the musicians took the time to incorporate several technical components inside this downbeat. For instance, the reverb pedal effect, along with the sounds from the wind-up music box, defines how they dedicate their sound to the nightmare-pop genre.

Punk Shadows is a great album to listen to and discover how the pop genre can be transformed into something gloomy just by using different sound combinations.

The band will be one of the performers at O Patro Vys in October in celebration of the venue’s 15th anniversary.

Blood and Glass // Punk Shadows // October 7, Saturday // O Patro Vys (356 Mont Royal E Ave.) // $10 // bloodandglass.bandcamp.com

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