Confining the local band Narcloudia with the genre of dream pop is limiting. Listening to them will remind fans of the band The Cure, of which there are two types: the “Friday I’m In Love” fans and fans who love Pornography’s intense dark wave appeal. What we’re trying to say is this three-piece band has some serious range without comprmising their distinctive sound. This is what they explored in their debut album Day Blind Stars.
In contrast to their EP titled Sky Spectre, Day Blind Stars is the culmination of the band’s sound. Their sound didn’t “evolve.” To be quite frank, there’s no evolution involved, only the sheer truth that their sound could only be described as their own. Their debut album is living proof of that.
Narcloudia may have scrummage scraps from the rubble of ’90s alternative rock, but they created their identity with whatever finds they have, bringing it to the modern context of our local music scene.
Narcloudia is an acquired taste, as for anyone who listens to dream pop and the rather obscure subgenres out there. This is not to say that they’re not worth giving a shot. They’re sound appeals to people who are fans of ’90s alternative rock. No, we’re not talking about some wannabe Goo Goo Dolls or Incubus music act. We’re talking ’90s post-punk kids like The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Pixies, and Sonic Youth.
Dissecting the range of the example bands given above will bring people to a conclusion that they have a common denominator. That is their ability to shift from genre to genre without compromising their distinctive sound. Narcloudia may have scrummage scraps from the rubble of ’90s alternative rock, but they created their identity with whatever finds they have, bringing it to the modern context of our local music scene.
Their opening track “Tracy” may be a soft, dream pop number, but this brings their album to a strong start. The influence of ’90s bands like The Pixies or Beck’s earlier works are evident in its structure. It’s as if Scott Pilgrim’s Bryan ‘O Malley based a love interest out of this song. Instead of Beck’s “Ramona,” it could’ve been Narcloudia’s “Tracy” in a different life.
[Narcloudia] exist within the melodic gray area between dream pop and post-punk darkwave.
“Howl” is the second track that contrasts the sweetness of “Tracy.” It’s dark, menacing, and it makes the listener feel that something is lurking within the metaphorical dark “woods.” Rich bass lines, subtle yet melodic guitar licks, and drum patterns waltzing with precision accompanies their vocalist’s high pitched yet sultry voice. Her voice is somewhere between Crystal Castles’ Alice Glass or The OG Poppy Mars Argo in the best way possible.
In the first tracks alone, the listener would get the idea on what Narcloudia is all about. They’re a contradiction within their own right. Narcloudia is not an “either/or” band, they are the in between. They exist within the melodic gray area between dream pop and post-punk darkwave.
It’s in the fourth track of the album where this gray area is personified. “Charmed” gives the listener a hunch that this track will be featured in a remake of Buffy the Vampire Slayer if given a chance. It’s dark, foreboding almost, yet it’s not a track that pushes people to form a wall of death instantaneously. Jazz inspired patterns mixed in with its dark imagery makes up “Charmed.” It has dream pop’s catchiness and dark wave’s uneasiness that summarizes the sound DNA of the band.
This carries on with tracks like “Spiralling Mandy” and their album closer “Stream of Consciousness.” But “Colour Wheel,” “Kettle Mettle,” and “Day Blind Stars” are adamant on staying one side of Narcloudia’s unique sound spectrum.
“Colour Wheel” and “Kettle Mettle” embodies the dark melodies the band emits ever so often. “Day Blind Stars” contrasts this by being a song that Alvvays probably missed the chance of writing. But “Stream of Consciousness” is where the band takes it all home.
[Narcloudia] embody the ever so expanding sound of local music right now.
The track closes with “Stream of Consciousness.” Out of all the other tracks in the album, this might be their most experimental one. The melodic shoegaze sound mixed in with the vocalists’ shift on spoken word and singing the lyrics makes it unique. It builds up only to lull the listener to a rest. It’s the sound of Narcloudia’s future personified.
Among the many artists bringing obscure subgenres in Manila, Narcloudia’s doing a pretty good job. They’re sound is not that alienating to a listener with limited knowledge of music. If anything, this local band is a good bridge to niche genres.
Narcloudia doesn’t exist to be everybody’s cup of tea like any band exploring subgenres. Their refusal to be a one trick pony when it comes to their musicality is proof of that. But they embody the ever so expanding sound of local music right now. And if your curious to find out what that sound is, Day Blind Stars will put you into a great start.
Art by Renz Mart Reyes