When thinking of the Oregon music scene, the late Elliott Smith and his oeuvre of auditory expression come to mind: indie, low-key, and more lyrically reflective.
Blouse feels more New York than Oregon, to be honest. The Portland trio (and live quintet) resurrects a rock vibe a la the Velvet Undergound’s work with Nico while layering feedback heavy electropop on top–a far cry from what’s normally associated with the northwestern town. Lead singer Charlie Hilton’s breathy vocals fall in the synth sweet spot of the 80s while the big melodramatic music picture conjures images of Sofia Coppola’s The Virgin Suicides.
“Into Black” is an infectious shuffle with both the lead and bass guitars strumming more for beat than filler among the swirl of summery synth leads while “Time Travel” channels English electronic group Ladytron. Blouse’s earlier tunes stroll along to a more indie rock beat–“Shadow” offers a cheery smile with a deceptively upbeat melody that contrasts the sad lyrics, “Will I be lonely out in the sky? And is that what it feels like when you die?”
Regardless of the fact that the band juxtaposes its sound in opposition to location stereotype, that sound is a delightful ear treat and a refreshing break from the all-out synth bubblegum that has dominated so much of the indie scene for the last couple of years.