[Album Review] Memoryhouse - Soft Hate
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memoryhouse
Release Date: January 25th, 2016
Label: Independent

Memoryhouse is the duo of composer/multi-intrumentalist Evan Abeele and vocalist Denise Nouvion. They have evolved from basement-recorded dream pop to more slick indie electropop. The production is now crisper, with each element brought into sharper focus. On the one hand this lends itself to impressively layered and orchestrated recordings, but at times it leaves you feeling nostalgic for the days when things were fuzzier and warmer.

On the definite plus side you get scorchers like “Arizona”, with a tremolo guitar intro that sounds like the prelude to a gunfight. Some big ass rhythm section cuts in and you feel like you are in some Steve Lilywhite production from the ‘80s. The aching guitar strains would probably put a smile on The Edge’s face. You can feel your emotions being manipulated, but, what the hell, good music quite often does that, right?

There are many moments like that throughout ‘Soft Hate’:  “Dream Shake” boasts a high energy beat that never quits; “Honey Baby Darling” ebbs and flows with a guitar/synth combo attack; and “In the Woods” is a gorgeous ambient instrumental. Unfortunately, the vocal components of the tracks don’t always hold up their end. “Knife in the Water” and “Sarah” are engaging enough, but the majority of the songs simply aren’t that memorable and they fail to match the power of the backing instrumentation.

There is a lot to admire on ‘Soft Hate’ when it comes to its musical production, and there are indeed times when the entire thing clicks beautifully. All to often, however, the vocal parts veer too close to the realm of the pop mundane. Their earlier recordings may have lacked a certain professionalism but you can’t help but yearn for those days when Nouvion dreamy vocals melted seamlessly into Abeele’s musical fabric becoming a single statement of shoegaze minimalism.