With 2020 continuing to be gripped by lockdowns and isolation, the year has become a unique opportunity for artists to experiment with new sounds and reflect upon old ones. In the case of Cleveland’s Vanishing Shores, they’ve taken to this period with gusto, flicking through the tattered pages of their history and rediscovering a series of old demos and reimagining them as a collection of beautifully stripped back singles.
An aptly titled album, ‘The Singles’ is a spirited departure from the band’s traditionally anthemic, indie rock style, perfectly showcasing a far more emotive and sentimental side to the indie-pop project. Offering seven singles taken from across their career so far, ‘The Singles’ begins with current fan favourites ‘Fix Me’ and ‘Always’, two wonderfully poignant singles that showcase the importance of putting your heart and soul into a song. Shining with a true indie rock style, the pair of tracks hang on sharp hooks and emotive, texture vocals, flowing with an undeniable sense of vulnerability that lingers long after they’ve faded from your speakers. It’s easy to see why ‘Fix Me’ and ‘Always’ have become so popular over the last few months, but as the album continues, it’s clear that Vanishing Shores has a lot more instore.
Third cut ‘Long Gone’ continues to balance raw emotional moments with stripped back instrumentals, offering a deft layering of distant guitar chords and wounded vocals, creating a stark, haunting soundscape that expands and breaths freely under the emotional weight of the song. It’s a classic slice of rustic indie infused with flourishes of solitary piano keys and sombre string, driving a connection between artist and listener that few bands have been able to master. Adding some welcome power and versatility to the album, ‘Kids Are Sleeping’ revels in soaring, stadium-sized choruses and knowing nods to Elvis Costello and Neil Finn, pushing ‘The Singles’ to reach its most anthemic and truly enjoyable moment.
Returning to most wistful, even regretful tones, ‘Edge of the World (Far Enough)’ wraps itself in ‘80s vibes and dark atmospherics, searching for meaning in the darkest parts of the past. It’s a sudden and damning change of pace, but it sets the stage perfectly for eclectic sounds of ‘Road Less Travelled’. Another shining glimpse into yesteryear, it’s a bold pop-inspired piece that pieces together the best parts of its predecessors, offering both entertaining highs and poignant lows in equal measure. A final flurry of upbeat rock sounds, ‘Road Less Travelled’ is something of a last, joyous hurrah before we’re thrown into the emotional mists of closing number ‘Blurred’. A single that reminds us all to take a moment and break away from the daily chaos all around us, it’s a fitting and wonderfully relatable single that wraps you in layers and holds you tightly, reaching out with a comforting hand and helping us to find our peace.
When embarking on the album, frontman Kevin Bianchi explained that he wanted to bring people together, to forge a connection and create a sense of intimacy through the lockdowns and isolation. He continued, “I feel that they reflect the weight of the longing we all feel for connection and intimacy during these strange days of dislocation. The basic need to hear the voice and feel the touch of those we love has taken on a much greater importance than I think we had realized in the past. These songs are a reflection of waking from a long sleep to once again see what is most important in our lives.”
It's a touching and powerful message, and one that Vanishing Shores have well and truly achieved, creating a short, but wonderfully engaging release that is both entertaining and enlightening. A perfect illustration of what they think, feel, and hope to achieve, ‘The Singles’ is the sound of a band who are well and truly on their way to creating something massive.
You can stream ‘The Singles’ above in full via Bandcamp and be sure to follow them on their social media pages for all the latest news about their upcoming sophomore album ‘Maps’.
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