by Jeremy Probst (@taskbastard)
Brooklyn’s Infinity Girl released their second full-length album, Harm, on August 28 on Topshelf Records. They avoid falling into the hazy pastiche of other contemporary shoegaze groups—Harm doesn’t just sound like pop-punk saturated with reverb, and it doesn’t fall into the rut of drawn-out crescendos. Instead, it offers a surprising and rewarding exploration of all of the most interesting nuances of the genre.
On Harm, Infinity Girl don't function with the most surprising paradigm for a shoegaze band—like most others, they take their fair share of cues from My Bloody Valentine, especially in the brief, psychedelic interludes found between many of the tracks. What really sets Infinity Girl apart with Harm is the way they synthesize the stylistic variety within the genre. Harm feels like it exists at the nexus of shoegaze, punk, dream pop, and noise rock (there are even some twinkly synth hooks here and there)—the vocals are often soft and buried, and the guitars range from gauzy to jangly to acerbic. As a whole, the album fluctuates seamlessly between lush, jagged, and gritty.
In a broad sense, Harm is an exercise in and study of dynamics—the album functions in dualities of soft and loud, fierce and gentle, etc. At times this dichotomy is surprisingly volatile, like in “Locklaun”, where warbly, distorted lead lines quickly give way to whispery vocals. Or in “Hold”, where unexpectedly Built to Spill-esque hooks fuse with twisted, screeching feedback and breezy acoustic rhythm guitar. By all accounts, it should sound like a mess, but the result is actually glorious; at its core, each song is grounded by excellent songwriting, and the band never lets their aspirations toward spacey effects or a dreamy atmosphere overshadow that.
It would be really easy for this album to sound muddled, unfocused, and generally all-over-the-place due to the wealth of different sounds it includes. But Infinity Girl subvert this with their tight songwriting and by taking all the right cues from the best of the genre, subsequently securing their place right alongside them.