The four songs on Brooklyn trio Vassal’s newest EP, Halogen Days, create a picture of gorgeous bleakness amid a wash of dreamily distorted guitars and driving beats. The EP follows their debut album In My Dreams I Am A Sailor (2012) and their sarcastic holiday offering Here We Come A Vassaling (2015). The band is led by vocalist/bassist/transgirl Shay Spence, whose thoughtful lyrics and emotion-wrought voice are laid in a bed of pulsing indie-rock goodness.
Vassal’s DIY aesthetic is evident not only in their production (the band engineered and mixed the album themselves, recording at The Creamery Studio), but in their reverence for indie bands of the 90s and 2000s apparent in their sound. The album sounds at times reminiscent of Spoon, at other times The Pixies, at other times TV on the Radio—the list could go on. They blend these influences into a sound of their own largely thanks to Spence’s uniquely inventive mix of disembodied angst with relatable imagery. At one point she proclaims “I know the end is near” and follows this with “I tear the name from my beer,” a motion whose immediacy draws the listener back from the depths of their thoughts to the real world.
Halogen Days kicks off with “Sea Spells,” where thumping bass and drums build to dizzying heights. The time changes and melodic and harmonic ventures are disorienting in a fascinating way, reminiscent to me of early Bowie. “Moonless” follows, where the evocative range of Spence’s voice shines amid a chaotic climax of wailing guitars. While their sound is decidedly introspective alt, this song could feel right at home in a big arena. “Who could ever find this fun,” begins their next song, “SoHo,” a track so anxious and agoraphobic, yet so surf-rocky and danceable that it’s actually inescapably fun. The EP ends with “Ghostwood,” a welcome calm with swaths of reverb that jumps into an energetic and jangly jam.
With Halogen Days, Vassals have created a mood I haven’t felt this fully since Weezer’s Pinkerton—hazy disillusionment and introversion that give way to frenetically fuzzed guitars and haunting yet catchy melodies. The EP is a satisfying yet tantalizing taste of more to come, and we’ll be staying tuned to see what’s next.
Check out their track “Soho” below!