Galaxies, the new EP from Massachusetts punk-shoegaze quartet Kindling begins with a song titled “Blinding Wave” – a title entirely apt for the band’s swirling, propulsive deluge of a sound. Indeed, the No Idea-released EP, which runs just over 13 minutes, has all the thrum and discord of a particularly rough sea, and “Blinding Wave” — the album’s most compelling stretch — finds Kindling offering their most interesting approach to the washed-out massiveness of shoegaze by layering all that dense sound above a punchy, driving core, something akin to Galaxie 500 or A Sunny Day In Glasgow, set atop the rumbling churn of Torche. It’s a novel way of approaching the often moribund aesthetic that defines this kind of indie-rock, forcing the baroque smokiness of dream-pop to actually move.
The rest of the EP is more measured, more content to unfurl at a slower pace, never quite reaching the sheer impact or the understated fun of that opening three minutes. But even when the band elects for a pulse as glacial as “While Away”, there is nevertheless an urgent forcefulness in how Kindling hammers away at those crawling BPM’s. The same goes for “Coastal”, which offers a subtly compelling contrast between the zoomed-out ghostliness of singer Gretchen Williams and the sheer up-front presence of drummer Andy Skelly’s rolling hits. These moments maintain the album’s not-so-hidden punk frame, so that even at its most woozily impressionistic, Galaxies remains vital (the band features members of Ampere, and you glimpse some of the same angled approach to this kind of hazy ambiance in their half of the No Idea-released Raein split, released this past summer). 2015 has seen several bands with discographies full of traditional post-hardcore records trying to expand their sounds with shoegaze’s easily-recognized humidity. But it’s actually a hell of a lot more interesting to hear the opposite approach – to see the ways in which a band like Kindling can take a sound that’s typically so stately, so rigid, and give it a fierce, dynamic core.