Crate-Digging Quick Takes: Dead Leaf Echo – Thought & Language

dead leaf echo

(self-released, 2013)

There’s a word I’m looking for – not really a word, I guess, but a term, one that sums up Dead Leaf Echo’s oeuvre in a neat, tidy package. It’s gotta be something catchy, something that evokes the band without coming off as overblown or obvious. Something that the marketing folks can latch on to. Something … something that channels essence, as well as place.

I know.

D R E A M  P O P

OK, maybe it was pretty obvious. Heck, pretty much all their press says it.

But right? I mean, the influences couldn’t be any more 4AD, could they? That cover art up there? Done by Vaughan Oliver, as if you couldn’t tell. (Or maybe it’s an Elmyr de Hory.) The mixing was done by John Fryer, who’s helmed the boards for the likes of Depeche Mode and Lush. The guitars – is there an adjective other than “shimmery” you could use for them? And the vocals are hushed and gauzy, mixed right into the middle of swirling whole. “Hushed,” “gauzy,” “swirling” – yeah, you’re reading a review about a dream pop band. Wait until I get to “ethereal.”

So is it lazy to say all these things? Not remotely, especially when they peg the subject so well. And it’s clear that DLE is embracing these connections rather than ignoring them, a wise move that has landed the New York band on bills with the likes of The Wedding Present, The Ocean Blue, and A Place to Bury Strangers. What you have to ask, then, is this: Are they doing it right? Because, you know, when you do a thing you should do it right. Dead Leaf Echo does their thing right.

Thought & Language should really be a 4AD release, it’s quite clear. And pretty much everything sounds exactly as it should, resulting in a chaotic but ethereal whole (there it is!), beautiful but not overwrought. I’m not gonna lie – I’m a pretty big sucker for dream pop and shoegaze bands, and DLE hits that wispy spot of ultra nostalgia for the style’s heyday in the late 1980s and early 1990s. So there you go. Do you like D R E A M  P O P? If so, then you’ll dig this. That is a recommendation straight from a total genre nerd.

RIYL: Chapterhouse, Lush, Ride, Medicine


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