Attention fans of shoegaze and dream-pop noir, CIEL is here to make your pandemic isolation more expansive and luscious – no matter how glum your reality might be. Your prescription for soothing your soul in these dreary times? Grab a cocktail, lie back in a pool of light with your sunglasses on, and enjoy CIEL’s MovementEP. In what sounds like a brilliant mixture of Raveonettes and vintage Tamaryn, with hints of The Horrors (for their dark synth) and Lykke Li, this Brighton, UK, foursome’s debut EP features some very polished songs. Lyrically, the theme is something of a meditation on life’s changes, something front and center on the mind of frontwoman and guitarist Michelle Hindriks as she moved back to her adopted hometown in the UK (Hindriks is a native of Holland). Overall, for fans of modern dreamy shoegaze revival with occasional edge, it doesn’t really get much better than this.
‘The Shore’ – a definite stand-out from the EP (and my favourite), the song draws you in immediately with swirling guitars and Hindriks’ floaty voice, and already at 0:43 the song has its first synth bridge, courtesy Jorge Bela Jimenez. Fuzzy guitars combined with airy vocals their peak hit at roughly 2:22 and its honestly pure shoegaze heaven right up until the song ends. Just go regale your ears already, and turn up the volume extra loud.
‘Days’ – more driving and upbeat overall thanks to Lawrie Miller’s drumming, with heavier hints of indie rock stylings, but Hindriks’ voice paired with spacious synth keeps it firmly in tune with the rest of the EP. At 2:15, the song is stripped back and gets a tiny bit dirty and bare – a nice change of pace, and a musical spot that prove to be a great interlude for improvisation during live sets.
‘Same Old Times With U’ – at first listen, this offering feels more akin to The Shore than Days, but listen closely and it reveals itself to be an ambitious and textured tune that artfully blends the sound of the previous two songs. Around 2:20 wobbly guitars take over, to be later tamed by Hindriks’ soothing crooning. At the 3-minute mark, CIEL bassist Kieran Mansfield is able to grab the spotlight, until the song culminates in heavily distorted, lovely dirty guitars. My only complaint is that it’s just not long enough and I want more!
‘It’s Not All The Same’ – is the odd one out of the EP for me. Production-wise, it doesn’t feel as polished and ‘finished’ as the other songs, nor does it really fit in all that well musically, despite having a definite CIEL feel to it. It was perhaps a song that was written quite early or quite recently, and just didn’t have the time to grow into itself. Perhaps live it could take on a more expansive rendering that better reflects the openness of the band’s overall sound.