steering clear of the mainstream
since 2001

june 2010

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info opinion

Pia Fraus

"After Summer" CD


Genre: shoegazer, dream pop

June 2008

After Summer is the latest from dreamy Clairecords, this era's premier shoegaze label. Pia Fraus hails from Estonia, but something tells me their brand of lush, hook-laden dream-pop will find approving ears just about anywhere. Since their inception in 1998, this cast of musicians has put out five records and three EPs, and their ten years of artistic progression is certainly evident on After Summer. On these ten tracks, Pia Fraus exhibit a keen eye for melody and an almost professional ability to knock out solid song after solid song.

While Pia Fraus' adherence to shoegazer conventions does limit them creatively, the quality of the songwriting manages to circumvent most criticisms towards this record's level of originality. As might be expected, most of these songs hoist hazy, shifting guitar layers over fairly conventional rhythms and ethereal keyboard parts. Vocals - often boy/girl trade-offs and harmonies - provide airy, summery melodies. The band's set of influences are fairly standard fare - My Bloody Valentine, Lush, The Jesus and Mary Chain, as well as many of their Clairecords brethren - and in all likelihood, if you've enjoyed the work of those bands, you'll find plenty to admire in After Summer.

Early on, tracks like "Springsister" and "Sailing Yes" show off what Pia Fraus can do with their time-proven formula, and the results are very successful. Curiously, the second half of the disc takes a bit more time to appreciate than the first. This is due to the album's middle section, which houses a pocket of more fuzz-laden and less overtly poppy songs that take the listener's attention away from the music's melodic constructs. Still, there is much to recommend in the later stages of After Summer - the soothingly uplifting "Mute the Birds" is a definite album highlight, while closer "Far Fade Whisper" is a juicy, keyboard-drenched pop tune. Although this album's relative homogeneity might make it a bit off-putting to genre newcomers, it remains a very good shoegazer record, and another fine addition to Pia Fraus' and Clairecords' prolific discographies. 

pia fraus' myspace


youuuuuuuutube!: springsister video

Matt Shimmer

[Vitals: 10 tracks, distributed by the label, released May 13, 2008]