The Gloomies started off 2016 with the kind of momentum that most young bands would envy. Their debut single "LSD" received high praise from British music magazine NME, thus winning over international press even before playing a show outside of Southern California. A well attended Monday night residency at Soda Bar followed, and by all accounts The Gloomies were shaping up to be one of the best new bands in town.
Blackout, the band's new five-song EP, does nothing to dispel that notion. Crisply produced with a professional quality sound that eschews the fuzz and chaos of lo-fi recordings, Blackout sounds like a band arriving fully formed, confident in what they want to do and where they want to go. And yeah, the songs are pretty damn good.
On a purely aesthetic level, a lot of what The Gloomies do is heavily influenced by the sounds of the past. Their guitar melodies frequently split the difference between the rockabilly riffs of Link Wray and the French yé-yé pop of Francoise Hardy. And there's a light layer of psychedelic haze to each song that nods to pre-Summer of Love garage rock. At no point do their sounds come across as mere homage, however, which has more to do with how they use their influences than what they are.
One of The Gloomies' greatest strengths is how well they use space. Few of their songs are particularly loud or noisy, and they're perfectly comfortable letting a note ring or a moment land. In fact, most of their verses are pretty sparse, slowly and carefully building up into something richer and more lushly arranged. And when they do, the lovely details start to take shape, be it the gentle touch of vibraphone on "Fire Escape," the subtle piano chords on "Bleached Out," or the Farfisa organ whir of "Want You Bad."
The Gloomies aren't about radical change or reinvention. But it doesn't take a pioneer to write a great song, and they've got five excellent ones right here. San Diego doesn't necessarily need any more bands full of laid back dudes with guitars, but if they keep on forming, they better sound this good.