Echo Lake – Wild PeacePosted by Tarin Fasano
[NOTE: After this review was written, the news of drummer Peter Hayes passing became public knowledge. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and bandmates.]
Echo Lake know when best to listen to Wild Peace. While 4 o’ clock in the morning has a cultural connotation as the last woozy hour of night (there’s a neat TED Talk about it). Everything’s deserted, everyone’s delirious – the night has been stretched as far as it can go. 5:00 AM might find you exhausted and cranky. Or with the unsettling realizations that a) the fun is done and b) the coming day was sacrificed to last night. The soft and pensive “Monday 5AM” acknowledges that sunrise. All of Wild Peace should be played at this time of day. Layers of white noise glint in the watery sunlight, and the wonky rocking back and forth is mostly lulling.
Wild Peace has a whole lot of reverb. But it lacks the intrigue you’d expect from something so obscured. Most of the album is gauzy and directionless (unless floating away counts as a direction). Texturally, think: swaying linen, ambling bells, creeping mists. Think: glimmer and gossamer. Echo Lake is straight-up shoe-gaze, straight out of South London.
Ex-choirgirl Linda Jarvis’ vocals slip in sideways, sweetly shimmering, but often buried by smears of drone and cloaks of haze. It’s especially impossible to hear what she’s saying during “Even the Blind,” (which is fitting, given the name) but it’s not like you can pick up more than a phrase or two from any other song. That’s okay though. Gaze at your shoes and dream up your own lyrics.
There are a few head-scratchers on Wild Peace. “Young Silence” and “Just Kids” both deliver tsunamis of sound. Amongst the collection of instrumental musings and languid twinkles the intensity is jarring. The contrast isn’t a problem – Echo Lake could easily be a lot more dynamic. What’s off is the medium: it’s like being pelted with meringues. These milquetoast assaults may be congruent with the paradox of a “wild peace,” but since when do lakes of reverb have tsunamis?
Another issue is that of familiarity. “Another Day” has a child-like melody singing “na-na-na-na-na-na, you can’t catch me.” Cute, but dull and formulaic. “Last Song Of The Year” showcases something of a proactive drum line, but the vocal melodies are familiar in the tired way. Swaying rhythms beneath blankets of vagueness get repetitive after a while. And though the off-kilter rhythms of “In Dreams,” for example, helps to offset the dullness, the majority of the album is muddled and suffering déjà vu.
So get wild, but in the mellowest way. Wrap yourself in shawls of echoes, count your shoelaces.