Dead Leaf Echo: Truth
2&1 Records

On Truth, Brooklyn trio Dead Leaf Echo offers its own take on the shoegaze tradition, with singer-guitarist LG, bassist Mike DiLalla, and keyboardist-vocalist Liza B. joined by guitarist Ana Breton for seven tracks that state their case with admirable dispatch. Almost everything on the album is delivered with maximum dynamic intensity, with Dead Leaf Echo building its chiming guitars and vocals into four-minute cathedrals of dreampop splendour that wash over the listener and induce swooning when doing so. Reinforcing the music's soothing character is the group's aversion to amphetamine-charged uptempo playing, as most of the songs are either played at a medium tempo or less.

A fabulous opener, “Half-Truth” rolls out a dreamy 3/4 groove in a powerful arrangement of chiming guitars and narcoleptic vocals but the song's main hook comes from the rat-a-tatting six-note snare pattern that repeatedly punctuates the wide-screen shoegaze atmosphere. “Act of Truth” backs LG's murmur with the purr of Liza B.'s background harmonies, while the extended mix of the track that ends the album initially strips the song down to echoing waves of vocal refrains before building it back up again with an insistent bass pulse and radiant synthesizer washes. There's also a restrained track, “Woolgathering,” which sculpts balladic washes of sound from hand percussion, acoustic guitars, and swathes of diaphanous vocals, plus a few moments of trippy psychedelia (“Trial”).

Production counts for a lot here, as LG builds the band's sound up into the kind of wide-screen splendour typically associated with the shoegaze genre (that the album was mixed by John Fryer of 4AD fame might have something to do with it too). Hear, for example, how something as simple as a snare strike turns into a shotgun blast during “Dance in the Light” and how the vocals ebb and flow in lulling swirls throughout “Act of Truth (Extended Truth Mix).” Such attention to detail adds considerably to the listening pleasure afforded by the album (mini-album perhaps more like it, given the thirty-seven-minute total). 

December 2010