Transatlantic Duo Sally Haze’s EP is a Marvelous Journey Into Shoegaze

Transatlantic Duo Sally Haze’s EP is a Marvelous Journey Into Shoegaze

 

Wet Dream from Chicago-based Sally Haze is a moody, yet fun shoegaze EP.

I’ve been on a bit of a shoegaze kick lately, and luckily, Sally Haze just released their second EP, Wet Dream. Sally Haze is the duo of Will and Jessica Wright. He’s from Leeds, England, and she’s from Chicago where the band is now based. Together they are creating some wonderful music. The word “dreamy” comes up a lot in descriptions of the band and that really is the best way to characterize their sound. With some synths, bass, guitar, and drums, the duo creates lush sounds and songs that take you on a journey. This new EP is a little more moody and vulnerable than 2019’s Dining Room, but it’s no less fun. The descriptor text calls their sound “Bedroom Post-Punk” and that’s a perfect way to sum up this fantastic EP.

Synthy strings and modulated sounds build up and are joined by a groovy little beat on “Fade In.” It’s brief and synthier than the other tracks, but it captures the dancey but melancholy mood of the EP, and gets things rolling. In some ways it’s a tone mission statement and a lovely one at that. It ends suddenly, but that’s when the drums roll in on “Be Mine,” joined quickly by a fun bass riff and an echoey guitar line. Jessica Wright’s voice comes in, layered with effects. It’s lush and echoey, sounding far off but simultaneously up close and personal. A simple synth line comes and goes, but the duo create a rich, deep sound with only a few instruments. Wright sings about love, and the song just feels bright: “We’re not just lovers for a few times / All of the hearts are intertwined.” The synths and effects-heavy guitar intertwine and compliment each other well, and the drums are splashy and active. Sally Haze creates a jolly shoegaze sound.

“Pavilion” rushes in with driving bass, drums, and a tense guitar plucking. Wright’s voice is extra echoey, and the slower pace of her singing contrasts the busy feel of the instruments. A glittery synth flashes in every so often, before Wright sings “Reality starts to hit / I’m losing control / Trying to keep up / Faces come and go.” The track is a rush of sound, but it fades away to just drums and bass for a quieter interlude. Various synth sounds float in and out, until the guitar comes back, louder and more aggressive. Wright sings again, adding to the tempest of sound. It’s disorienting and overwhelming in the best way. The sounds wash over you like waves in a storm at sea, until the drums have a final roll and an electronic chirping fades out.

The next track “Don’t Forget” starts off calm, with synthy strings. It sounds dreamy, enhanced by Wright’s tender singing. When the drums come in, they are active, but it all feels much smoother. The bass is sparse, but the low rumble shines through. It’s a slow song, more emotional, taking its time. The lyrics, especially in the chorus, match the melancholy of the track: “If you want to leave / Remember that place / I’ll always wait for you there.” When the guitar comes in, it’s echoey, high, and crackles with feedback, adding tension to the tranquil depths of the other instruments. More synth sounds float in the background, and all the instruments make up a soft wave that gently jostles underneath Wright’s beautiful voice. There’s not many words in the song, but it effortlessly creates a mood and feels emotionally reassuring, ready to heal old wounds and move on. 

The guitar takes the lead in jumpstarting “All That Matters.” The song starts loud and jangly with layers of sound, before stripping back down for Wright’s voice. The track plays with dynamics, continually bursting open and echoing, before fading down to a bare sound. Wright sings higher on this track, and throughout she sounds like she’s pleading: “It’s what we both want / We’re both searching for it / It’s what we both want / We’re both begging for it.” The repeating dynamic changes create a tense mood, and that tension rules the song. It never quite settles into a melodic groove, but plays with different sounds. This powerful track always keeps you on your toes.

The final track, “Around the Corner,” begins with what sounds like the synth intro to a children’s program, but is quickly joined by distorted guitar and Wright’s voice. The drums and bass roll in quickly after, but that clicking and bright synth riff continue throughout, giving the track a brightness. Wright’s opening line “I’m feeling fine” gives the track as a whole a feeling of perseverance. The drums and bass keep the song moving, while the guitar riff adds a backdrop of sound through which the synth shines. It’s a song that quietly celebrates survival, but things keep moving and moving:

This is where I close my eyes

And take a deep breath

Just don’t think about the past

Live in here and now

I am loving every bit

It all goes so fast

This track also plays with dynamics, as the layers of instruments ebb and flow. Wright’s voice floats over  it all, sometimes layered with one singing high and one low. It’s dreamy, a little sad, but overall strong, and brings the EP to a close.

On their second EP, Sally Haze continues to add layers to their sound. All of the songs have a sort of dreamy, shoegaze sound to them, but each one also captures a unique emotion. Some are bright, while others cling to a more vulnerable, melancholy sound. They all come together brilliantly, and Wet Dream is over before you want it to be. With two EPs thus far, the Wrights are making marvelous music together.

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