EP Review: Graywave unveils the seismic dream pop delight ‘Planetary Shift’

The Breakdown

'Planetary Shift' is an evocative, expressive EP filled with shimmer and sparkle while underpinned, as the EP moves into its second phase, with a gothic-tinged hardened edge.
False Peak Records 8.5

Here at Backseat Mafia, we have been lauding the dream pop aural landscapes Graywave has created through a series of singles released over the past year. Graywave – the nom de plume of West Midland’s multi-instrumentalist Jess Webberley – has now released an EP entitled ‘Planetary Shift’ through the boutique Brisbane label False Peak Records, and it delivers on a promise of exquisitely crafted songs that evoke a dream pop/shoegaze shimmer throughout.

Webberley states that this is an EP of two halves – the first representing light, the second, the dark.

Opening track ‘Dreaming’ sets off with a fine jangle: layers of reverberated guitars sparkle under Webberley’s gliding vocals. Webberley says:

The song itself is about wanting to do better. It’s about realising that the power to be whatever we want to be lies within ourselves. I wrote this when I was feeling particularly optimistic about forging my own path in life and found excitement in that.

There is a shoegaze wall of sound that propels the track with a brightness and verve.

‘Swallow’ has an impeccable driving force – the vocals are more melancholic and the sparkling instrumentation is forceful and cinematic – deep splashes of guitars and keys form a base with Webberley’s vocals sweeping magnificently across.

‘Swallow’ is about feeling a loss of control and losing trust within your own thoughts and actions. It’s about the way I feel when something bad happens that is out of my control – I tend to still blame myself even when I am not at fault and this song captures that. The meaning of this song also coincides with the theme of the EP; a feeling of inner turmoil and a shift in emotions.

The title track eschews the layered electronica with a more acoustic guitar sound that jangles high above a white noise bleed and Webberley’s voice is ethereal and haunting. There is an elegiac quality about the track – the vocals expressive and emotive.

‘Planetary Shift’ started out as an acoustic song which I planned to take no further than my guitar. After I finished writing it, I felt inspired to demo it properly and something about the production process clicked with me so I decided to go for it and mix it to include it in the EP. This track is intended to be stripped back and honest, it is a true display of my writing process and I wanted to include something that hasn’t been changed by going into the studio.

The track is also a fitting segue into the darker side of the EP, introduced by ‘Like Heaven’ where we see a drift away from lighter-textured dream pop into a darker shoegaze fugue – less structured and a denser sound: perhaps reflecting inner turmoil and doubt. There remains a poised and delicate shimmer:

The final track ‘Before’ has a Cure-like bass heavy spine with Arctic guitars chiming and an ominous timbre to the vocals. Webberley’s voice is ethereal: there is a hard edge and a distant, detached air while the instrumentation builds up to a crescendo.

‘Planetary Shift’ is an evocative, expressive EP filled with shimmer and sparkle while underpinned, as the EP moves into its second phase, with a gothic-tinged hardened edge. Webberley has the vocal strength and force of Garbage’s Shirley Manson applied to a shoegaze drive of MBV or Slowdive. The approach is unique and forms Graywave’s distinctive sound – there is no burying or disguising the vocal tracks: they form a perfect and integral part of the overall palette.

‘Planetary Shift’ is released through the magnificent and eminently tasteful False Peak Records (where you can order a 10″ vinyl) and you can get it through the link below or download/stream here.

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