Shield Patterns - Violet - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Shield Patterns - Violet

by Justin Pearson Rating:7.5 Release Date:2015-03-17

Adequately described as dark-pop, Manchester-based duo Shield Patterns continue to serve up more haunting soundscapes on the brief but resonant Violet EP. Aside from the obvious Kate Bush comparison, Claire Brentnall's voice is endearingly tentative in its own right, lending an off-kilter quality to match the skewed melodies that comprise the four tracks.

This characteristic dissonance is most notable on 'Silver'. Thick with unease, the track skitters along an unsteady surface of uneven beats and lyrics that signal an ending of sorts: "To see your mouth/ to see what's inside falling out... Sing for me one last time." About halfway through the song, the beat slowly transforms and becomes more even, yet still keeps its sense of doom. It's oddly creepy, but it starts to feel good upon repeated listens - this applies not only here, but also the whole EP.

More vocally-centered than last year's debut Contour Lines, Violet gives Brentnall a spotlight to shine in, especially on the last two tracks. The highlight of the EP is 'Made of Ice', the first of these two. Mostly bare-boned piano and vocal, it chills with its minimalism and icy delicateness. Brentnall's aching wail shiveringly cuts through with a cold image of the past: "And after our age of ice, we turned to rock-salt and melted our souls."

'Monument' conjures a sensuality that feels both dangerous and enticing with its incantation-like beat and repeating mantra: "We went up high/ where bodies breathe better..." The spell works splendidly and after it's been cast, the last half of the song swathes you in the warmth of a clarinet lamenting an inevitable sleep - not death - but one of peace you don't ever want to wake from.

Where Contour Lines felt at times minimal to a fault, Violet manages to maintain a similar aesthetic while breathing more life into the melodies. If Shield Patterns stick to what they're good at and find the sweet spot with their singular style, it's a sure bet the best is yet to come.

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