Published Feb 10, 2016After an almost four-year hiatus, Guelph dream pop duo Memoryhouse have returned with their sophomore album, Soft Hate. In 2011, the duo created The Years, a quaint and refreshing EP that possessed the sort of untouchable rawness that many first releases tend to carry. Within a few months followed The Slideshow Effect, which maintained the same hazy inertia as The Years, but with a more polished sound.
With faster rhythms and brighter melodies, Soft Hate veers in a different direction than its predecessors. While retaining the same honesty as before, Soft Hate draws on '80s synth pop/new wave: "Dream Shake" could be the title track to a John Hughes film, while "Fate" is a lively opener for the album, with swelling guitar tones that create a sense of urgency and wonder.
In contrast to previous works, Soft Hate stays upbeat throughout, as Denise Nouvion's easygoing vocals and casual tone work in combination with the album's emotional lyrics and sparkling synths to create an atmosphere of both longing and letting go. The highlight of the album is "Sarah," their strongest creation to date, on which Nouvion's voice echoes haunting lyrics like "You've been dead / and I can't forget / Sarah Sarah, go home," to juxtapose the music's vibrant surf-pop feel.
If The Slideshow Effect was the soundtrack to a string of cold, dark winter months, Soft Hate is the melting snow before spring. Although Memoryhouse have often compared to Beach House in the past (which is never a bad thing), Soft Hate is a step towards the duo firmly establishing their own voice. (Independent)