Harbingers of doomed romanticism and Gothic beauty Single Lash may hail from Austin, Texas, but their sound is much more based in the gray, overcast UK towns of Liverpool, Manchester, and London. Painting woozy, dreamy pop songs out of delayed guitars, loping rhythms, and icy synths, singer/guitarist Nicolas Nadeau sings in a sultry baritone that while never wanting to bum you out about the current state of the universe, he does want you to know what’s at stake.
2018s Providence was a revelatory piece of shoegaze/dream pop wonder, bringing to mind classic records in the 4AD and Sire Records canon in the 80s. A touch of the Smiths, the Cure, and Cocteau Twins, but given new sonic touches via the distinct songwriting of Nicholas Nadeau.
Single Lash, which includes Nadeau as well as Neil Lord, Mari Maurice, and Thomas Echols, have returned with the ethereal beauty “To Laugh”. It’s everything we’ve come to expect in a Single Lash track, but with the urgency of the times integrated into their shoegaze world.
According to Holodeck Records, “To Laugh” is “beautifully delving into the disillusion of life”, and there is a touch of disillusioned angst in the lyrics. Over the last few months we’ve all had our own version of that “come to Jesus” moment, where what we thought was important really wasn’t in the bigger scheme of things. That hopeful optimism slowing fading into, while maybe not cynicism, a healthy stoicism. But just because the world is seemingly ending around us, doesn’t mean we can’t try to right the ship. Nadeau’s poetic but bitter refrains are countered by the otherworldly beauty of Single Lash’ wall of sound. In lesser artists hands, a line like “If there is a god, it likes a grim joke/ Breathes us to life, then laughs until it chokes” could come off harsh and bitter, but with Single Lash there’s still a sliver of hope underneath the dark sentiment in the words.
Some of my favorite songs are what would be considered “downers”. Bowie, Cure, Cocteau Twins, Nick Cave, and Leonard Cohen delivered darkly poetic tracks that underneath all the doom and gloom offered something to savor; something to live for. Though the “laugh” in “To Laugh” is ironic and not so joyful, it’s still a laugh. Maybe there’s still time to right the ship. Single Lash are trying, one song at a time.
Listen to Single Lash below, then go to Holodeck Records Bandcamp page and by “To Laugh”. Join Holodeck Records subscription service for just $8 a month and get everything they release digitally. Learn more here.