Marriages – Salome (Sargent House)

LA stoner-rockers/shoegazers long awaited LP debut

Released May 5th, 2015 via Sargent House / By Gabriele Guida
Marriages – Salome (Sargent House) Three years ago, almost on this exact same date, Emma Ruth Bundle (lead vocals and guitar) and Greg Burns (bass and keyboards), former Red Sparowes members, released the first EP, Kitsune, of their new project, Marriages.

Already a valid product itself. Kitsune proved the immense potential of the new formation, eagerly exploring possible paths between shoegaze and stoner rock. But at the same time the EP left open the possibility of evolving into some sort of more defined and original sound. After the addition of drummer Andrew Clinco this April, that abstract sense of ‘this could somehow become even better’ took form in Marriages’ LP debut, Salome. Well, it’s definitely an early prediction, but Salome could easily be one of the best records of 2015, for a number of different reasons.

The band’s ability to balance elements from post-rock, stoner, shoegaze and pop gives the album an heterogeneous feel, with melody breaking through roughness and vice-versa, keeping the listener constantly on edge. This feel is reinforced by brilliant vocals from lead singer Bundle, whose ability to naturally switch from delicate whispers to furious screams is one of Salome’s strong points.

The cryptic lyrics speak of loves lost through powerful images and metaphors, often recalling biblical figures, including Salome herself, a character from the New Testament.

Instrumentation is fairly simple, mainly guitar, bass, drums and vocals with some sporadic synthesizers, but the way Marriages build harmonies and manage dynamic changes keeps the album always interesting and pleasantly surprising. What really makes the record stand out is a mysterious capacity to completely absorb the listener. It’s almost as listening to it we can feel like driving without direction in some American desert, diving into the sunset running away from a burning heartbreak.

The rough bass lines and raging vocals of the opening track ‘The Liar’ are followed by the semi-pop guitar riffs of ‘Skin’ and ‘Santa Sangre’, particularly effective in a sort of harmonious contrast with the general heavy rock feel of the tracks. ‘Binge’ is a celebration of Bundle’s beautifully tormented singing style, with her voice emerging over thick walls of sound and overdrives.

Title track ‘Salome’ is the most intense on the LP, with its six minutes of gloomy melodies and distorted choruses at a slow, entrancing pace while also deserving of mention are the daydreaming atmospheres of ‘Love, Texas’.

Salome is a record without compromises, made of profound wounds and ecstatic highs continuously melting into each other. It requires dedication and slowly causes dependence, allowing us to grasp a bit more of its beauty listen after listen. Finally it gets to the point when we feel almost a physical need to put on headphones and jump back behind the wheel, chasing the sun somewhere in the dust of an American desert.