SIDEWALKS AND SKELETONS
Love it or loath it, witch house is here to stay and so is Sidewalks And Skeletons, AKA Bradford's Jake Lee who, on his latest release under the moniker continues to experiment and push the definition of the genre. 'White Light', the follow-up to last year's 'Future Ghosts', incorporates the classic trappings of witch house but pushes beyond them as well and even goes as far to infuse metal elements into some of the songs. It is an album that is set on expanding the palette of its creator and the experimental scope of the genre.
The album opens in a big way with the soft ambience of 'Fall' giving way to what has to be one of the strongest S&S songs thus far in the form of 'Unearth'; a wonderfully dance friendly track that features black metal style female vocals to add a demonic slant to the already dark track. 'Eternal' follows on nicely with its lighter textures that ultimately descend into bursts of nightmarish dissonance. While 'Goth' brings in some very nice synthpop elements fore a very accessible and club-friendly offering. 'Above' drags things back firmly into a more experimental territory with its slow and dark sample lifted from Marilyn Manson's 'Deformography' set to light melodic leads and swirling synths.
'Pure' provides the album with its most cinematic feeling piece, sounding like it has been cut from a science-fiction film soundtrack it creates a sense of space that is temporarily sucked away by the central sample with great effect. 'XXX' brings things back into metal territory with its Godflesh style blasting rhythms and mechanical strains that are over too soon unfortunately. Luckily 'Disappear' then emerges with some big synths and more female vocals to add a deep blast of classic witch house appeal. 'Blood' provides another wonderfully cinematic track interspersed with hard beats and scathing synths to great effect. The album finishes with the light ambience of 'Underwater Sun' which rounds things off with a delicate combination of light beats, hanging synths and delay drenched leads that combine with a deep bass.
The production, despite the strong experimental edge and the various different styles and themes at work is pretty good. It maintains its underground credentials but when it needs it, the tracks get the spit and polish they need to give then an extra kick.
'White Light' is hands down the strongest Sidewalks And Skeletons release to date, and perhaps one of the best witch house-related releases of the year. The songs are aiming for another level and more often than not reach it. It has aspirations to stay true to its roots but at the same time redefine what they are and can encompass. This is an album that should hopefully capture a lot of people's attention, and quite rightly so.