Say Psych: Album Review: Routine Death – Parallel Universes

Separated by 7,000 miles, Routine Death are the husband and wife duo of Lisa (Gothenburg) and Dustin Zozaya (Austin), the latter also playing in psych-pop outfit Holy Wave. They are set to release their debut LP, Parallel Universes, on Fuzz Club Records on 25th May. The ten-track offering is the perfect introduction into their world of dark, lo-fi pop that channels an ethereal darkwave sound with bewitching lo-fi vocals and glitchy electronics.
Born out of the distance between the pair is a certain kind of intimacy, the use of cheap equipment – including a five dollar drum machine iPhone app and decrepit barely-salvageable synths – and a creative process that involves constantly sending tracks forwards and backwards over the internet results in a minimalist noise-pop sound that shuns the overbearing sonic-excess that most new shoegaze bands fall victim to, instead stripping things down to the absolute fundamentals.

This separation is a key part of Routine Death’s creative process, Dustin explains “obviously the method of making the music itself is a big part of the record. There’s that separation between us the whole time and that’s a big influence. We don’t work on anything together, we’ll just keep sending things back and forth. The songs mature that way.” 

They open with a thirty second instrumental, ‘The Anteroom’, before moving into ‘Life Inside A Vacuum’ which is a lo-fi sounding track with layers of antiquated noise overlapping playfully, the removed vocals add a sense of distance. ‘Star Alliance’ brings the guitar into focus early on in contrast to its predecessor, before Lisa’s unique vocals come into play bringing with them a range of other unidentifiable sounds with work in unison. ‘Diamonds’ starts with a simple yet haunting melody, which builds as layers are added, with ethereal vocals dominating.

Title track ‘Parallel Universes’ starts with a gritty synth riff that implodes as the notes become a blur and layered sound leaves a distant twinkling. The indistinct vocals add to the allure and the entire thing feels very spacey. Following we have lead track ‘Charm Tooth’ which is so beautiful its almost painful to listen too. With an infectious beat, charming melodies and intense vocal harmonies to accompany powerful lyrics, there isn’t really anything not to like. This leads into ‘Salvaged Denim’, a musically simple track that makes its mark by its clever repetition that adds layers, ensuring its constant evolution.

‘The Impossibility of Paying Our Debts’ has a title that most of modern society can relate too, but the lyrics hint at a meaning deeper than the obvious. It’s a track that will appeal to many, with delicate musical intricacies that are so subtle its easy to miss. ‘Heart & Soul’ and ‘Belong’ conclude, with fuzzy guitars, strong synth melodies that dominate and Lisa’s echoing vocals.

It’s clear that this album has been a labour of love, and the story that surrounds its conception only makes it all the more magical. As the creative process has transversed the miles, so the sound transverses genre, ensuring that this will be an LP that many can enjoy, regardless of their preferences.

As an interesting side note, I’m about 99% sure Lisa is the voice of the infamous Goat, she is based in Gothenburg after all and the vocals do sound identical. I did ask Fuzz Club if my suspicions were correct but the publicist refused to comment, make of it what you will…


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