Echodrone by Echodrone (Review)

There’s nothing wrong with diving recklessly headfirst into the sounds you love and pushing them as far as you can.

If a band sports a name like Echodrone, then you’d better believe that they’re into some serious shoegazing and dreampopping. Anything else would simply be false advertising. So not surprisingly, Echodrone’s self-titled debut is everything you’d expect from a band heavily enamored with the classic days of “the scene that celebrates itself” — which proves to be both its greatest strength and its greatest weakness.

The San Francisco-based quartet gets things started very solidly with “Here We Are,” which starts off placidly enough with some shimmering guitarwork. Then a searing riff comes tearing down the song’s middle like a fighter jet on a strafing run, and the entire piece takes off for somewhere up in the stratosphere. It’s quite reminiscent of everything you loved about Nowhere-era Ride, from the careening melodies to the nasal, affected vocal harmonies (courtesy of Mark Florey and Eugene Suh).

Although “Here We Are” runs nearly eight minutes, it never really wears out its welcome, but continues to barrel down the path of overdriven guitars, feedback, and droning vocals for nearly its entire length. The rest of the EP, however, doesn’t quite keep up the same pace, instead opting for a slower, even gentler sound. Which, unfortunately, causes the EP to become bogged down in its final moments.

The EP’s final two tracks — “Alone” and “Lost In Translation” — run just as long as, or longer than “Here We Are.” And while the necessary elements are there, with both shimmering, droney textures and drifting vocal harmonies in great abundance, neither track has the same reckless, propulsive energy that is so essential to “Here We Are“ s success. As such, both tracks grow less enveloping as the seconds and minutes pass, and more monotonous.

There’s nothing wrong with diving recklessly headfirst into the sounds you love and pushing them as far as you can. Such an approach clearly works on “Here We Are.” But there’s also something to be said for restraint, economy, and brevity — for distilling those sounds you love into a clearer, purer, and more fully-realized form.

That’s what is missing from the remainder of the EP. I hear lovely bits and pieces in “Lost In Translation,” such as the noodly synth melody that winds its way through the slowly crashing waves of feedback and guitar noise. Bits and pieces that could be even more lovely if they weren’t so commonplace, so often repeated and dragged on and on.

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