Connecticut’s Landing are a band that seem to evolve and reshape with every new album. On their 2015 El Paraiso Records debut Third Sight it was a slightly psychedelic, slightly ambient affair with hints of delicate dream pop thrown in for good measure. But the velveteen hushes on that great album were just a fraction of the sonic world Landing have haunted for what is now nearly 20 years of making records, seemingly under the radar. The husband and wife duo of Aaron and Adrienne Snow met in college back in the 90s and found partners in art, as well as life, in each other. Along with Daron Gardner and several contributors over the years, which now includes John Bent, Landing has explored everything from 90s indie rock to Komische to late 80s 4AD titans over several self-released albums and EPs.
Landing is the best band you may have never heard of.
On their second release for the Danish El Paraiso Records Landing have reeled in the hushed ambient tones and woozy psychedelia for a more driving sound. Bells In New Towns recalls everything from Neu! to Dinosaur Jr to Ride to Lush, all of which goes into the Landing machine and comes out through buzzing amps and monitors as something slightly new and off kilter. There’s a real urgency in the driving rhythms and bass lines that make this record an all out summer record. There’s still plenty of contemplative moods here, but this one also really rocks.
Right out of the gate, Bells In New Towns changes things up from last time. “Nod” opens the album in an explosion of drums and distorted bass that sounds like a decidedly louder and more rocking shift from last time. Wavering electronics hang in the air as Adrienne’s vocals faintly tease over music that would’ve been right at home on MBV’s Glider or Tremolo EPs. Aaron’s tenure in shoegaze/dream pop band Kindling might’ve rubbed off onto this amazing track. “By Two” feels slightly more wistful, with airy keys and acoustic guitar opening the song. The vocals and drums come in and give the track a more driving feel. Long car rides and contemplation seem proper to go with a song like this. “Gravitational VII” is an exquisite synth piece. It feels like getting lost along the way in a glowing cloud of memories. Hallucinatory, but in the best way possible. “Bright” is all out driving, motorik beats with heady synthesizer giving the impression we’ve traveled back to Berlin, circa 1974. It sounds like Kraftwerk-inspired shoegaze.
Bells In New Towns, even with more pop-oriented tracks, feels more exploratory than even the ambient tones of Third Sight. There’s a feeling of movement on this record. A forward motion into the unknown. Landing sounds like a rock band here. Not that they weren’t a rock band, but these tracks push that notion right into your ears.
There are moments of hazy contemplation, though. A track like “Secret” has the artful spirit of Popul Vuh mixed with the dream pop grandeur of The Besnard Lakes, while “Gravitational VIII” pushes those analog dreams further into your brain with synthesizer circuits dotting your cerebral cortex. “Fallen Name”, however, is an absolutely gorgeous pop track. Lilting like the best Yo La Tengo but dreamy like Auburn Lull, the track achieves a certain kind of personal transcendence not often found nowadays. On the flip side, “Wait Or Hide” is both jagged guitar and psychedelia rolled into one. Slightly more Sebadoh than Dino Jr. The tranquil “Second Sight” closes out the record with chiming sonics and big sky openness.
With Bells In New Towns, Landing turn up the amps and the urgency in their songs. Where Third Sight was like a waking dream, Bells is wide awake and forward motion to something, or someone, of significance. This album sounds and feels like a classic indie rock record in the making.
8.3 out of 10