Album Review: Deafcult – ‘Auras’

By Ben Madden | @benmaddentweets

Brisbane shoegaze band Deafcult have only been around for a short time, but they’ve already made a big impression on the Australian music scene. Their 2015 self-titled debut EP earned them the title of ‘Independent Artist of the Week’ on FBi Radio, an influential radio station in Sydney. Joining up with Adelaide label Hobbledehoy Records, they are set to release their debut album – Auras – a collection of songs sure to propel them into even more widespread acclaim.

‘Lemonade Beauty’ opens the album, and brings with it a lush, reverb-heavy soundscape. Deafcult have undergone multiple lineup changes in their short history so far, but they sound more settled than ever, as the band shifts gears throughout Auras with ease. ‘Secret Wisdom’ is one of the more guitar-driven tracks on the album, but it also shows off the band’s vocals in full force. Innez Tulloch and Stevie Scott share vocal duties, their breathy harmonisation adding another layer to the already rich sound. ‘Judy’ is a standout on the album. There’s not really a point on the album where a full song is entirely guitar-focused, but the breakdowns on ‘Judy’ will satisfy anyone who’s missing bands like My Bloody Valentine.

But it’s not all gloominess on the album.. ‘Echoes’ is synth-driven, and compared to the rest of Auras, , incredibly upbeat (that is to say, the sound is  a lot lighter). The electronic influences that pepper the album are on full display here, and the upbeat synths are interesting enough to hold the listener’s attention, despite its overall minimalism. The band switches between layered sounds and more stripped back songs, like on lead single ‘Summertime’. This is arguably the only time the band strays from shoegaze on the album, with the single leaning towards slacker-pop, most notable when the acoustic guitar comes in towards the end of the song.

Title track ‘Auras’ is one of the shorter songs on the album, clocking in at 1:35. It’s one of the more murky tracks present, featuring  unclear, faint vocals underpinned by industrial-sounding drums. Somehow, the sounds work well together, despite teetering on the edge of collapse for the entire minute and a half. Such is the nature of the album.

What should be a mess sounds coherent, and what should feel out of place feels right at home. Thus Deafcult have hit the right balance between minimalism and lushness on Auras, and they’re able to keep the listener engaged throughout with enough variance from track to track. All the songs feel like they belong, though, with a clear similarity of sound throughout.

Deafcult have put together a debut album sure to turn heads. While it doesn’t reinvent the genre of shoegaze, it is a great display of how to do it well, and it contains something for everyone to enjoy. Definitely an album worth checking out, and it will help you get through the winter months (as long as you like listening to shoegaze in winter).

3.5/5

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