The formula for indie rock in the last few years has become worryingly predictable. Since chillwave became first a word, then for some reason an acceptable subgenre, there’s been a trend even among garage punk and roots acts to incorporate icy synthesizers and way too much reverb into seventies AM radio style melodies. “Hazy” and “chill” have become shorthand for “in-vogue indie”.
While Sandro Perri is no stranger to 70s AM radio (having covered “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac in 2007), he eschews most of the trappings of contemporary guitar music to create songs that feel like they were stitched together from his best experiments. Difficult or complexly arranged pop tunes are often (mis)labeled “tapestries”. While I’m tempted to use this term to describe Perri, I think it implies too much structure. The new record Impossible Spaces is more like something painted – sounds are incorporated for colour, texture, and mood. The result is a cohesive collection of songs that have impressive movement and trajectory. This music takes you places.
Future Active Kid parts one and two appear on the record after the exuberant and playful opener “Changes”. Pt. 1 starts out as a sparse 4 chord dirge as the protagonist describes his agoraphobic, possibly post-apocalyptic existence. It’s not until the second half of the song that we start to hear Perri’s trademark experimentation, A bass clarinet(?) enters, then quickly is replaced by a backwards guitar line. Both create a real sense of malaise as the song disintegrates before transitioning into Pt. 2.
The impressive but dense pt. 2 is bursting with ideas. Melodies enter, loop back on themselves, and leave abruptly. Found sounds mingle with guitar and synth punches. Perri’s voice floats delicately above the melee. Anxious but exhilarating, this song makes you feel like you’re getting away with something not allowed. Every moment in the song feels both deliberate and on the verge of collapse. I’m already excited to see this performed.