Friday, June 21, 2013

Splashh Debuts With Comfort Mood

When Toto Vivian and Sasha Carlson left Byron Bay, Australia, last summer, neither one of them knew precisely where the collaboration and collection of psychedelic indie pop songs might end up. It wasn't really clear, in fact, until they landed in Hackney, East London and lined up their first gig last May.

As soon as they did, the duo knew they couldn't put it off anymore. They needed a little help from their friends to round out the band. So they started calling around until Jacob Moore and Thomas Beale turned up for their first live set and it all fell into place.

With Vivian having played with Beale in another band and Carlson having known Moore for years in Aukland, the only real hitch was that Moore was still in New Zealand. The whirlwind trip had him playing with his old band one day, and flying to London the next day to rehearse with his new band.

Comfort is a brilliant alternative indie rock debut with ample psychedelia.

The album, Comfort, doesn't really take its name from being a theme per se. It's more like a state of being. Everyone in Splashh has played in several bands before and they've all settled into the idea that it is more important to do things with people you like rather than those who promise everything.

Most of the music came together by playing in the moment. They prefer to go with it more than overwork it.

Vacation, which was the first track the band ever played together in the studio, sounds like that. It's a fuzzy fringe daydream song about taking off and finding some solace away from the hectic pace of wherever you are. It's simple, but has a stylish and steady psychedelic atmosphere.

All I Want To Do feels much the same way, except with a sound that is even more relaxed and almost underwater. It's not just about wanting a vacation, but imagining what it might be like to live without worker worries. The music can be a bit mangled, but only in the best possible and most cheery way.

For anyone who has listened to music for more than a few decades, there are similarities and familiarities to be found, casting the foursome as a cleaned-up grunge band in some quarters. But maybe what's more interesting than who they sound like is the crowd that found them. They never heard that music.

Not everything about the band has a sunny smile. Just most of it.

While most of their music floats along with Carlson delivering a steady stream of distant and dazed vocals, Splashh doesn't rely on single gimmick to win people over. They balance out their brightness with edgier and somewhat darker tracks at times.

Two of them, So Young and Washed Out, touch on sadder stories — dismissive in one instance, heartbroken in the other. There is a tinge of hopelessness in both songs despite the airiness that cocoons the lyrics. Headspins, which opens the album, isn't as cheery as you think on the first pass either. Neither is Need It, which carries the casual call to run away from everything.

What makes it all work are the simple but penetrating chords, the right amount of fuzziness, and enough authenticity to give pop a punch in the head. It's human and modern but unafraid to give nods to the late 60s and early 90s. Comfort is worth owning as an album and make sure to add the bonus track Sun Kissed Bliss to the mix.

Comfort By Splashh Makes Waves At 9.5 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

Comfort is a jewel because it achieves exactly what it sets out to do, without trying so hard or thinking that fuzz and distorts can turn something foul into something fun. While it probably wasn't nearly as effortless as it sounds (or the band makes it sound), Comfort catches everyone off guard in that it's a debut that gets it right. They can only go up from here.

Comfort by Splashh can be found on Amazon or order the vinyl from Barnes & Noble. Comfort is also available from iTunes. The band has also put most of their songs up on YouTube, but the best place to catch their chronicle is Facebook. Add them to this year's best debut list.
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