The Capsules - The Long Goodbye

by Jeff Penczak Rating:9 Release Date:2014-05-19

This Kansas-born, Dallas-based trio began their musical adventure as Shallow when Mr (Jason) and Mrs (Julia) Shields released several EPs on Zero Hour in the mid-90s. Their ethereal dream-pop soundscapes have since been honed across five albums, with the latest being their debut for the up-and-coming nu-gaze pop specialists at Saint Marie. 

‘The Beginning’ is always a great place to start, and here it wraps a seminal slice of fizzy sheen around Julia’s lighter-than-air vocals and attractive girl-group backing oohs, aahs, and bop-bop-bops. Think Saint Etienne meets The Heart Throbs and you know you’re in for a good time. ‘Monsters’ introduces some jangly guitars and synthy dance-beats to the mix, leading into the chill-out comedown of the decidedly Cure-like (ca Disintegration/Wish) title track.

Another about-face floats in on the ambient guitarscapes and soaring atmospherics of ‘Death of a Comet’. ‘With Every Hour’ will have all you Hammock, God is an Astronaut, and Now, Now snorecore fans sitting up and taking notice.

Julia’s little girl vocals are by now ripping my heart out. She could sing the phonebook and elicit warm and fuzzy feelings. The yearning ‘Hollywood’ offers some bubbly 80s synth embellishments, while ‘You Are a Metaphor’ is another melancholic navel gazer which Julia breathes effervescent life into with another heart-tugging vocal. And that’s just the end of side one.

Calling all Eurythmics fans – Dave & Annie are alive and well and their influence is all over ‘Signals’, while Giorgio Morodor’s motorik, Midnight Express Europop beat is at the heart of the terrific ‘The Lonely End’. And then there’s the epic legstretcher ‘The Forgotten Days’, which tears a page out of Warpaint’s innocent-but-deadly swagger and puts a Cleopatra grip on your heart with bombastic guitars and angelic-yet-mysterious vocals. Finally, enough cannot be said about the uplifting spiritually invigorating finale, ‘I Will Survive’ (no, not Gloria Gaynor), which ends up in the stratosphere among the angels.

Most bands this far into their careers have run out of ideas and start recycling the debut’s promise with second-rate toss-offs which aren’t even worth burying on some obscure b-side that nobody will ever hear. But The Capsules sound rejuvenated and as fresh as ever with one of the year’s most welcome surprises.

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