San Francisco’s Echodrone impressed in 2010 with ‘The Sun Rose In A Different Place’. It was an album tailor-made for shoegaze fans, with so many artists from the original scene recalled, but crucially it had the songs to rank it above any accusations of recycling. ‘Bon Voyage’ aims to continue that trend but the group have also grasped new opportunities this time too.
‘Under An Impressive Sky’ begins with a complex guitar intro which threatens to turn into math-rock but Echodrone’s fine harmonies from Eugene Suh and Meredith Gibbons steer the song into more familiar territory. Rather like the previous record, Gibbons is often the USP for the group. Unlike many shoegaze vocalists, she is reassuringly strident on ‘Hypnagogic’ but in fairness the group raise their game too by providing a driving undertow to support her. Yet if that song was good, even better is to follow for ‘Cold Snap’ where the key line of “It’s so cold without you” carries even more resonance when set to a wonderful ringing guitar melody and appropriately chilly harmonies.
After that, ‘Pure Nickel’ retreats into watered down territory but ‘Infinite Arms’ shows genuine adventure by travelling down an acoustic path and still achieves delightfully dreamy results. This just leaves ‘Constant’, an epic, sprawling finale which sounds so exhausting to play, it’s not surprising that the final words are delivered like mere whispers.
Again, Echodrone aren’t uprooting any trees here but clearly they’ve also endeavoured to take on different styles. The result is that ‘Bon Voyage’ is another strong album, if occasionally hamstrung by its mid-paced boundaries.
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