Even now, some 3-4 years after its peak, the emo revival is stil going strong and travelling in all sorts of different directions. Bands are continually striving to add new ideas and sounds to the mix, keeping the genre fresh and exciting. Melding this emo sound with shoegaze makes sense; both genres gained traction around the same time in the late 80s/90s and are currently experiencing simultaneous revivals.
While France’s Pærish aren’t the first band to bring in a shoegaze influence, they manage to create a sound that is definitely something that belongs to them on their debut ‘Semi-Finalists’, even if it’s not entirely original.
Although there are shoegaze-y guitar textures throughout ‘Semi-Finalists’, Pærish seamlessly combine these with straightforward, chunky riffs on songs like ‘Winona Ryder’ and ‘ShaqFu’, or sweet-sounding pop hooks on the title track.
The shoegaze influence builds throughout the album, with twinkling guitars and breathy, layered vocals on ‘Undone’ and ’75-7’. The former track also manages to incorporate a guitar solo without it disrupting the tone of the song, which is impressive for a track that brings in so many elements from such a subdued genre. The latter also includes some math-rock influenced riffing, another new element keeping things fresh. There’s a beautiful, dreamy guitar tone kicking off ‘Party’s Over Biff’, which is nicely contrasted with pop-punk gang chants in ‘Then People Forget’. ‘Semi-Finalists’ is coherent, but it does go a lot of different places.
Penultimate track ‘Sailplane’ is an acoustic ballad reminiscent of ‘Bleed American’-era Jimmy Eat World, a welcome change of place stripping back the ambitious, layered sound Pærish have created. ‘Start With the Differences’ combines many influenced for a closing track that’s at once aggressively emotive and challengingly psychedelic.
‘Semi-Finalists’, then, isn’t an obvious shoegaze/emo hybrid, it’s entirely it’s own beast. Pærish have created an interesting sound despite the mish-mash of influences, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see them go places in the future.
‘Semi-Finalists’ by Pærish is released on December 2nd on 14 Bowls of Cereal.
Words by Alan Cunningham (funeral_polis)