Album Review: Loma – Don’t Shy Away

“Don’t Shy Away’, the new album from Loma, is a joy: luminescent and glowing throughout with a multi-layered instrumental complexity and yet a simplicity and elegance to the songs that is immersive and enthralling.

Throughout the album there are traces of flutes, trombones, saxophones in addition to synths, pianos, violins and of course guitars bass and drums: creating an architecture of sounds that surprises and delight.

It’s no wonder this band caught the attention of Brian Eno, who ended up contributing a mix to final track ‘Homing’ after previously praising the band’s debut album.

At the heart of this Magnus Opus is a strength of melody: mountain high, melancholic, languid and liquid. Conventional sounds mix seamlessly with unconventional intrusions, perfectly framing the silky vocals. Witness ‘Blue Rainbow with its startling interventions and noises in the distance.

The opening track, ‘I Fix My Gaze’, starts the album off in a hypnotic mood: a haunting and dreamlike state that floats through the atmosphere.

‘Ocotillo’ moves in with a drone and steady pace: a more accessible track that highlights the soft, emotive vocals, bubbling synths and almost discordant saxophones that shiver at the edge of the song.

‘Half Silences’ – the song that first brought this band to my attention is celestial: haunting and melancholic, imbued with heightened emotions and so elegant and assured:

An absolute enchanting and epic song you wish would go on forever.

Singer Emily Cross’s voice is ethereal and angelic: ‘Elliptical Days’ layers this in a choral chant, a sombre and reflective track – I am reminded of the aural complexity created by Peter Gabriel in his best work:

The general dream pop soundscapes do shift and change change: ‘Given a Sign’ has an EDM feel and a sensual disco style that almost references Donna Summer’s ‘I Feel Love’: languorous and intoxicating, repetitive, circular and hypnotic. ‘Thorn’ mixes spoken sections with mesmerising chanting and a sparse style but with the same languid sensuality.

The title track ‘Don’t Shy Away’ exemplifies the musical creativity that flows throughout this album – creating an almost oriental feel in the instrumentation with Cross’s voice drawing the listener into the dreamy fugue and distant horns and noises sharpening the edges of the song.

The album ends with a ‘Homing’, a simply gorgeous, achingly beautiful track infused with melancholy and the layers of distant percussive noises over the multi-tracked vocals that lend a transcendent feel. Remember how you feel when you hear Sigur Ros? This has the same effect.

“Don’t Shy Away’, the album, is truly a grand and beautiful work of art.

At the core of Loma are Cross and musician and recording engineer Dan Duszynski, and Shearwater frontman Jonathan Meiburg. A full list of additional musicians and collaborators is listed below (accidentally left out of the first pressing of the record).

The album is out now through Sub Pop Records and available to download/stream here or through the link below:

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