2020 has been a non-starter for bands and musicians of all stripes, cancelling tours, delaying albums and destroying income streams that many depend on to keep making their art. It’s been an incredibly difficult time, but often from the most difficult of circumstances come the most engaging and vital pieces of art, music and expression.
For bands like Pleiades, who released their new single Pale Soul 94 in late November, the process of writing and recording new music in the corona era has been a cathartic experience, channelling the deep and sometimes uncomfortable self-reflection imposed by endless furloughed days into their creative processes.
Following up 2019’s sophomore EP All At Your Mercy, the five-piece’s most recent effort is a heartfelt tribute to family relationships, in a time that has entrenched the emotional impact of the modern, atomised family unit.
In lead singer Andy Calderbank’s own words “I’ve watched my family change rapidly throughout the year, from a distance. Gratitude and sentimentality have become intense perspective on what is truly important”.
Befitting such tender subject matter, the band has found a new stride with a gentle, meandering instrumental that channels Mogwai in their softer moments. Interlocking ethereal guitar melodies frame Calderbank’s haunting vocal that invokes dreamlike images of “Fertile ground, no one left for miles around” juxtaposed against the familial “Mother who’s this man, who says repeating, you’re everything I should have been” creating a real sense of a domestic scene half remembered, half imagined, charged with the anxiety of separation.
As the song progresses the group eschew the traditional structure and the gentle dynamic, descending into a complexly woven and crushingly heavy sequence of riffs, borrowing from the Midwest emo and post-hardcore stable of bands like Glassjaw and American Football without feeling at all derivative.
It’s a testament to the band’s unified musical vision that they have created a track with such contrasting parts, managing to do both just as convincingly without losing the emotional heartbeat at the centre of the piece. Credit here to producer Joe Clayton, whose work with the band on both this track and last year’s ‘All At Your Mercy’ has helped carve out the bands sound by contrasting dynamics and space against brutality and mosh-pit worthy walls of sound.
With early support from Kerrang Radio, the band’s unique style is steadily gaining them well-deserved recognition across the UK’s alternative music press. With 2020 now drawing to a close, there’s hope that we can see the band on the road in the near future, though if this track is anything to go by, maybe a little longer at home isn’t such a bad thing.
‘Pale Soul 94’ is available on all streaming platforms now.