Into The Shallows

The Rare Occasions

Independent release, 2018

REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Into The Shallows is a very deceptive album. On the surface, this full-length debut is an upbeat indie pop record with short and simple jangly guitar numbers that are full of youthful gusto and carefree disposition. For instance, “Backwards” is as playful and catchy as an old Blur song, even though its backdrop is tragic in a Smiths-like way because it is sung from the perspective of a protagonist who is heartbroken.

While the rest of the disc is not quite as jaunty as “Backwards,” what’s deceiving is that the songs here share a similar spirit. Still, they are much darker and weirder, like a sweet and fruity cocktail where you can’t make out the alcohol at first…and then it hits you.

“You Weren’t Meant To See That” starts off all innocuous with its goofy bass, quirky guitars, and a lazy vibe that celebrates “joy in the mundane,” such as “just laying on the carpet.” And then, in the same sleepy spirit, out of the blue the singer imagines himself in a violent automobile accident! As if that wasn’t enough of a surprise, the music then explodes, and the vocals start screaming out words cathartically as if energized by the freedom of finding clarity of thought (“And for once in my life I see things for what they are and not through the lens of profit and achievement”), which is quite dramatic for a cut that’s not even three minutes long.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

There is a constant reminder of the “youngness” of this Los Angeles, CA-based outfit (formerly from Providence, RI) on this record, between frontman Brian McLaughlin’s boyishly sprightly vocals and the poppiness of the overall music, no matter how strange it gets. The band deserves a lot of credit for this because the disc has some pretty challenging musical themes, which are not only performed with adroitness but also with great smoothness.

On the one hand, there are tracks like “Shutting You Out,” which is breezy and uncomplicated, with melodious Coldplay-like guitars and a fun “singalong” chorus or “Physics,” with its swooning guitars and upbeat tune. On these, The Rare Occasions sounds like your everyday indie pop group.

On the other are songs like the totally eccentric “Posts,” which features vocals that sound slightly deranged and instrumentation that is fully bass guitar driven, consisting of a musical interlude that is almost like a bass solo with noisy guitars tacked on. Or, take “Tether,” which has the soul of Pixies or Nirvana, with vocals that are sung with fury, and guitars that are messy and chaotic. Or “Mercy Mercy,” which displays the prog-rockers in The Rare Occasions; its big sound and cool guitar and bass parts reminds one of seasoned musicians.

Because of these various facets that are so different from each other, it is possible to either like Into The Shadows a lot, or not so much, depending upon the song. But no matter which way one might swing with this record, one would be hard-pressed not to appreciate the energy of the band, which is quite infectious.

Rating: B

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