ALBUM REVIEW: Astronoid – Radiant Bloom


While the better bands have a strong identity, it can often take an album or two for the truly distinguishing features to grow and embed themselves in the music and presentation, and it is rare for a band to emerge not just with their idiosyncrasies fully intact but their defining elements already a core part of who they are. Bands can share the same influences and play the same styles, but it still doesn’t happen all that often that a new band appears and sounds like themselves, and themselves alone.

Lowell, Massachusetts quartet Astronoid shone brightly and caught the attention of many by doing just that on their stunning 2016 debut Air; an impactful and refreshing breeze of post-rock and shoegaze underpinned by a black metal feel of racing drums and tremolo guitaring, with Brett Boland’s distinctive child-like soft, very clean melodic vocals. A self-titled followed, and allowed an expansion of the sound – critically acclaimed though perhaps not as impactful as its predecessor, it was the perfect stepping stone to this, their third album Radiant Bloom (their first with label 3DOT, owned by Misha Mansoor of Periphery), as we see this lovely band continue to refine and hone their sound, and make a step up, continuing to deliver on the promise, authenticity and individual nature of their art.

Opening track ‘Admin’, a traditional Astronoid song, drops embracing warm melodies wrapped in a lush, full production, before the jubilant and uplifting ‘Eyes’ flows effortlessly through, building to a explosive and exuberant guitar solo that takes us by the hand back to the chorus. So far, so Astronoid. And an Astronoid that has taken to the improvements around pace, dynamics and structure made on their second album while painting with a more mature and considered palette.

And this cultivated approach sees them able to expand and progress their musical offering a touch without any of it sounding any less “Astronoid”. ‘Sedative’ has thrashy pulses before it’s chorus pulls together all the aspects of the band as well as anytime across the three albums – drums push, synths swirl, the dream-soft vocals float and the tremolo melodies uplift. ‘Sleep Whisper’ allows them to explore the Devin Townsend influence that has always been there but is often repressed, and ‘Decades’ takes on a more wistful tone, before taking us home with a swelling and reflective coda.

‘Orchid’, ‘I’ve Forgotten Your Face’, ‘Drown’; it seems to matter not which one, as a series dreamy and contemplative songs bring a smile to the face, and it is this effortless ability to weave together shoegaze, post-rock, pep and fortitude, gorgeous melodies, and eighties reflections tones and ideas, such as flashes of indie and synthwave, all helps set this dream-rock band apart. Glastonbury, Bloodstock, Arc’tan’gent, Roadburn, Damnation, Coachella… name a festival, Astronoid have proven now they could fit in at them all and be one of the highlights.

Sometimes refining and working on the sleekest version of a sound means a loss of quality or a distillation, but Radiant Bloom is the culmination of ten years of developing and improving a sound and a vision into an album that is both Astronoid’s crowning and defining moment so far, and the most fully realised version of all the components that make up the sound of this uplifting, joyful and most excellent band.

 

Buy the album here: https://lnk.to/radiantbloom

 

9 / 10

STEVE TOVEY