The Light in All of It by SungazeRelease date: July 19, 2019
Cincinnati based Shoegaze band Sungaze will be a new name to many. Based around husband and wife duo Ian Hilvert and Ivory Snow, the band won’t win any prizes for originality – sounding like an optimistic Mazzy Star, or a more chilled out My Bloody Valentine – but their hazy dream pop is confident and assuredly delivered. There’s a real relaxed vibe throughout The Light in All of It, a tropical beach holiday of an album, drenched in 80’s style synths and lazy campfire guitar playing, but still at times feeling the apocalyptic negativity the genre is known for. There’s a mesmeric quality to the music, soft and gentle but hiding serious menace.
While the band are a trio (completed by drummer Tyler Mechlem), its Hilvert and Snow who take centre stage, with the couple sharing vocal duties. There’s a variety of approaches throughout the album – Snow’s vocals are ethereally beautiful, while Hilvert’s are grungier, rockier but never straying particularly far into his metallic roots. This creates an interesting dynamic throughout the album, with the duo taking turns to take the lead in songs. ‘The Race’, for example, has a dreamy vibe with repetitive vocal lines, favouring Snow’s hypnotic vocals, while ‘This River’ has a rockier, but also almost gospel choir vibe that favours Hilvert taking the lead. This approach continues throughout the album, but Sungaze still maintain remarkable coherence, maintaining their “deckchair at the end of the world” vibe throughout. Only the brief interlude ‘Hymn’ shows and jagged edges at all, with its oriental stylings.
The album has its darker moments however. ‘Washed Away’ relates the story of a young man who drowned in front of Snow, and all the guilt and anxiety the incident caused. Coming directly following ‘New Familiar’ (a nostalgic track relating the “whirlwind romance” of the young couple at the heart of band), it should sound somewhat jarring, but somehow it all comes together. The band maintains their tropical vibe throughout the album – even the sinister ‘Waning’, with its mumbled, almost incoherent vocals will have that air of lightness. Likewise, even the more laid back tracks such as ‘Sparrow’ feature that apocalyptic feel. Sungaze have crafted a wistful meandering atmosphere throughout.
It’s that atmosphere that carries the album. For a debut album it showcases a band in great confidence, adept at creating their own world. The Light in All of It doesn’t do much new with the genre, but fans of shoegazing will appreciate songs that are well made, lovingly crafted and bring to mind such exquisite hazy atmosphere.