Niights - Hellebores - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Niights - Hellebores

by James Weiskittel Rating:9 Release Date:2019-02-15
Niights - Hellebores
Niights - Hellebores

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been four years since the indie-shoegaze-dream-pop mashup otherwise known as Niights released their stellar debut LP Whisper. But after three years of near-constant writing and recording (mixed with a healthy dose of touring), the band is finally set to release their follow-up, the impressively ambitious Hellebores.

While much of Hellebores is clearly built around singer Jenna Fournier’s impassioned vocals and thoughtful lyrics, the ‘guitar/bass/drums’ portion of the band, spearheaded by guitarist and co-producer Frank Maraldo, provides the record with a tangible sonic foundation. With deep shades of post-rock-inspired instrumental sections and an ever-present wall of effects-laden guitars, Hellebores feels less like a ‘next’ chapter, and more like a culmination: the sound of a well-oiled artistic machine firing on all cylinders.

Swirling strums and some impeccable snare work provide the foundation for the aptly titled instrumental “Intro” before the band collectively crashes into “Generator”, a song that immediately places Fournier’s evocative vocals on full display. From there, percussive embellishments and inventive guitar-work drive songs like “So Into You”, “Trail of Blood” and “Stars”, before the album’s de facto centerpiece “Keyhole” closes out the first half in a rousing fashion.

While Hellebores Part.1 focuses on the band’s ethereal side, Part. 2* presents a collection of riff-driven space-rockers that further expands upon the scope of Niight’s previous output. “It Was” is just the sort of galloping rocker that Nina Gordon would have been proud to have written while the instrumental title track is a careening wall of sludge that brazenly leaps from the speakers. “With Bated Breath”, and the awe-inspiring workout that is “Sylvia” continue to careen from ‘soft’ to ‘loud’ with a brilliant mix of Sabbathized-riff-work and judiciously-implemented atmospherics while the gentle, album-closing “Caterpillar” serves as a collective last-gasp for both the band and the album. 

Hellebores starts with a whisper and spends the next eleven tracks slowly building towards an awe-inspiring climax. It’s at all times 'a lot', without ever feeling like too much. And longtime fans of the well-traveled indie-rock outfit will be pleasantly surprised to find that the band’s 90's shoegaze and dream-pop leanings are still in place, albeit, in a less obvious, more obfuscated way.

Hellebores Pts. 1 & 2 is a tremendous step forward for Niights. The band stretches out in new and refreshing ways, and the whole thing is benefited by a meticulous, expansive mix that instantly recalls the likes My Bloody Valentine and The Cure. I know, I know big names and lofty praise. But hey, if the shoe fits…

*Hellebores was released digitally as two separate E.P.s: Part 1 is out now with Part 2 soon to follow.

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