The word “Subterranea” brings to mind complex and dizzying tunnel cave work underneath the Earth’s crust; a society of underground people that have adapted to complete darkness and live out their lives in complacent paranoia. These ideas are hinted at through distorted metaphors, cascading synth work, batshit drumming, and frenzied guitar on the indie post-punks, Sunglaciers, sophomore LP, Subterranea, but really, this album is about the “under the skin” jail we as humans constantly trap ourselves in. As you tear away pieces, a network of dark emotions are found in the recesses of a person’s mind, and they can’t wait to escape on Subterranea.
We hear it first on the opener “Negative Ways,” a hazy trance that lulls you into a sense of blissful, yet false security and destroys it with a grooving bassline and oscillating synth. The lyrics, which seem to stem from a seedy stream of consciousness, are intentionally vague, but about all the wrongdoings a person catches themselves doing.
“Avoidance” creeps in like a sinister sonic conspiracy and smashes you over the head with its whirling synth and crazed drum fills. It’s a song you’d hear in a neo-gothic club in Berlin, just as the drug trip starts to take a turn for the worse. “Order” is the guitar-driven counterpart, following the ominous theme, much less a drug trip, but a feeling of being stuck in a governmental parliament building and looking for an escape.
It’s not all doom and gloom, at least instrumentally on “Thought Maps,” a halcyon repetitive synth that brings to mind something from Boards of Canada and Beach House. Again, the drumming is a sublime draw for the listener. “Stayed” is there for the Brian Eno fans, dominated by the humming synth work and hypnotic vocal work.
The song order is dramatically important to the overall listening experience of a full album, and while there are some notable singles, “Draw Me In,” “Best Years,” for example, the way themes and certain musical elements make appearances from previous songs creates a cohesive experience that never gets old. The band is to thank for that, but also the indie wizard, Chad Van Gaalen, who contributed to a few blips, bloops, and co-production.
Sunglaciers clearly know what they’re doing in the world and with Subterranea, have crafted one of the stand-out records of early 2022.
Order Subterranea by Sunglaciers HERE