Let’s get this straight right off the bat – this is very, very good. Shimmering guitars and melodies; hooks and a clean, crisp sound. This young trio from Birmingham, Alabama (no, not Birmingham, England, funnily enough!) who call themselves Wray, have taken the more melodic side of the old British “shoegazer” ethos and made it much enjoyable and palatable on Hypatia, their debut album. Keep in mind, this is a sound I’m very fond of by nature (as I was in my teens going into the mid-’80’s), so it makes it even more pleasurable that this record brings back good memories and the joy that a young band is exploring this style for themselves.
With the opening track, “Below”, I can sense the haze of the heavily chorused Jaguar, strumming through the broad chords that fill this piece – which sets the table for “Giant”. This particular number comes right from the Seventeen Seconds handbook – murky, enigmatic but instead of minor chords and a dark vibe, this is much more strident and buoyant – none of the mid-period Cure’s dirginess. A happier bastard son of “Play For Today”, actually. The title track, “Hypatia” continues the mix of The Cure and the melody of “Under The Milky Way”, which is strong and solid (it’s also the first video for this album, included below). “May 23rd” has a very Chameleons-like feel and an immediately grabbing riff that hooked me in and “Jennifer” is another fast-paced piece that goes into full throttle noise assault after the choruses – a neat and clever device, which makes an already-outstanding song shine even more.
We’re not even into the new year and this first album from Wray shows this could be yet another stellar year. High marks to this band for knowing how to be creative, consistent and interesting while being catchy and tuneful. Hypatia is less than a month away and I anticipate its arrival.
Hypatia will be available Friday, January 15, 2016