Bring Her – Comfort in the Shame

As often as the phrase “style over substance” is tossed around, you’d think the two ideals are fundamentally opposed to one another. Pittsburgh’s Bring Her might seem like they’re all mood and aesthetic, but among the glitching synths, distant guitars, and atonal vocals, their sophomore record Comfort In the Shame carries a substantial beating heart.

Genre identifications are always an inexact science, distilling broad sonic palettes into concise phrases that poorly communicate what’s exactly going on. And in this case, words fail tremendously. There are cold robotic drum machines borrowed from industrial, lo-res synthesizers on loan from chiptune, atmospheric guitars visiting from shoegaze and new wave, all existing in the freezing atmospheres of coldwave and accompanied by sneering atonal punk vocals that I can’t quite read as being aloof or panicked.

The duo calls their sound “sorrow wave,” and it’s as good a descriptor as I can think of. The neon, futuristic aesthetic of new wave (and all of its various -wave offshoots) is here, providing a propulsive beat for a shaking of shoulders that you can’t quite tell if the subject is dancing or crying.

The reality is probably both. There’s a sort of sorrow—or anxiety or existential dread or dissatisfaction—that is best made manifest by putting it to a rhythm and dancing to it. And in a climate beset on all sides by political unease, climate crises, economical collapse, and a growing number of global pandemics, Comfort in the Shame is the exact kind of dance party we need.

Comfort in the Shame is out August 19 through Knife Hits.

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