by Mike LeSuer (@mike_lesuer)
It seems like a bit of a tease to release a dream pop record as unspeakably warm and breezy as anything Sweden’s Westkust has come to be known for in the middle of March. When the first single from the band’s recent self-titled hit, the opening seconds of downhill-racing guitars—which manage never to lose their footing—fell right in line with 2012’s Junk EP and 2015’s Last Forever. For a band with as many line-up changes as Westkust has undergone since forming in 2010, it’s always surprising how unambiguously Westkust each of their releases is.
Beyond the gliding riffs of “Swebeach,” the rest of their long-anticipated follow-up to Last Forever is certainly no exception to the band’s uniformly summery catalog. Nine tracks in total, Westkust is the same noiseless noise pop the now-fourpiece has peddled since unfairly gaining attention as an offshoot of fellow shoegazing Swedes Makthaverskan, rather than earning their own place in the canon. “Cotton Skies” is as good an example of Brian Cukrowski’s guitar roaming free while an otherwise-conducted, high-energy pop song tears through its three-and-a-half minute runtime as their debut single “Touch,” while the twelve seconds of uphill climb followed by screeching freefall on “Do You Feel It” best exemplifies the traditional Westkust formula.
The one distinction Westkust boasts among the group’s previous work, though, is vocalist Julia Bjernelind going solo on vocal duties, adding a new sense of linearity contrasting with Last Forever’s male-female dialogues. From the previously mentioned burners to the relatively slow numbers like “Daylight”—still pretty fast, not to mention unbelievably dense—their self-titled works as a posthumous debut introducing themselves as a collective held together with friendship, as Bjernelind claims, and marked by an aptly floral cover design. Their beach-friendly riffs seem less an act of provocation and more one of pure optimism—a welcome disposition any time of year.