Topographies’ Difference & Repetition Perfectly Invokes the Specter of Early ’80s Post-Punk (Review)

If you’re a fan of ethereal guitars, icy synths, Cure-ish basslines, and haunting vocals, then this is your new favorite EP.

Even at its poppiest and most upbeat (e.g., ​“Veils”), Topographies’ Difference & Repetition is still wrapped in a rich, shadowy gloom that’ll leave you wanting to paint your fingernails black, don a trenchcoat, and light up a clove. The San Francisco trio’s latest EP (and their debut for the DREAM label) perfectly invokes the specter of early ​‘80s post-punk thanks to icy guitars and synths, brittle percussion, and ghostly vocals that sound like they’re echoing across a decades-wide void.

Shoegaze-y textures ring out across ​“Open Up,” revealing the trio’s other musical genre love. As befitting its title, ​“In Crept Doubt” quite literally creeps along thanks to a sleepwalking bassline and layers of dreamy guitar that are equal parts Robin Guthrie and Robert Smith. In other words, it would most definitely have all the goths in the discothèque out on the floor, swaying gracefully to and fro amidst the smoke and strobes.

The EP winds down with the majestic ​“An Eye, Open.” It features the same elements — icily chiming guitars, a serpentine bassline that would make Simon Gallup proud, haunting vocals phoned in from sometime around 1984 — but given that it crosses the five-minute mark, those elements have more space in which to spread out and develop. Not to mention wrap the listener in an even tighter hold, one that compels you to join the rest of the goths out there on the dance floor, trenchcoat swirling while you lose yourself in Topographies’ lush musical nostalgia.