Shelter is a surprise. It’s like Alcest decided to gaze at the sky instead of at their shoes. Songs sail through white fluffy clouds in an ocean of blue. Sometimes it’s so dream poppy that you might think, “What the fuck is this? M83??” The album cover should have tipped us off: sun glare bursting through two pairs of arms, one hand stretched to the heavens. Looking at it, you’d swear it’s 2010 and you’re on MDMA listening to chillwave. And it’s appropriate. Shelter is so light as to be aerial. It’s a soundtrack for summer night car rides on the way to the beach. Emma Watson could listen to it while poking her head out the sunroof, pretending to fly through a tunnel. “L’éveil des muses” is about as dark as it gets, and even then the night is lit up with white and yellow squares from the tower buildings of a neo-goth city populated by sexy vampires. The title track sounds like a day where there is nothing to do and everything feels right. The only reason to dislike Shelter is if you’re morally opposed to happiness. It seems to me that, when life cuts you a break, you should ride that fucking wave.
Somewhere between an abandoned circus where human beings are left to roam and the sandy scenery of a Western is Timber Timbre’s Hot Dreams. Despite this slightly worrisome setting, there is no explicit violence to be found here. Taylor Kirk’s warm and gentle voice is yet another that reminds us of Richard Hawley. Maybe that’s just what happens when you put echo on a man’s deep vocals. And that’s okay. So says my soul and so says my groin. It’s certainly better than the instrumental alternative. His voice reminds us that there is hope in the pleading that stems from human desire, that it is when we will cease to wish for what isn’t that we will be truly lost. He sounds a tad mischievous, like he might have a bit of control over life after all, might be able to alter it, if only slightly. The question that remains is will we make it through? The instrumental ending is not particularly hopeful except in its very last note. It probably doesn’t help that the track is titled “The Three Sisters”, like Chekhov’s play. Maybe there is reason to worry after all.
has an MA in Film Studies and works in contemporary dance. His fiction has appeared in Headlight Anthology, Cactus Heart, and Birkensnake.