A Shoreline Dream deliver their second full-length album, Recollections of Memory. The new record does a fair job of bridging the gap between shoegazer rock of the past and the present. While their thick, swirling sound gives more than a casual nod to the "clear as mud" production style of My Bloody Valentine and Ride, they also reign it in and balance their palette with more overtly indie post-rock sensibilities. And the inclusion of Ulrich Schnauss on three of the album's tracks is sure to draw interest from further fanbases.
The album starts off with "Manhattan Beach", which is instantly upbeat and showcases well the style present on the rest of the record. Rhythmic guitars and a persistent rhythm section support a veritable floating sea of ethereal feedback, pads, and vocals that serve more instrumental purposes than lyrical. Things take on a slight punk edge with "Seattle", although not enough to undermine the rest of their sound, but it is nice bit of variety. Likewise, "Mid Decembers" deliver a slightly more space-rock edge to the proceedings, for those in need of a more psychedelic fix.
On a slower tip, the mid-tempo and instrumental "The Night Before" is a nice respite in the middle of the record. And to help round out the end of the record, "Interlusion" offers a peaceful prelude to the more frenetic pace of "Pasadena" that will close things out.
To their credit, A Shoreline Dream have solidified their sound and deliver it consistently. It's not exactly unique – some might say this is a limitation of the genre, although I tend to think it's more a widespread tendency to dwell on pastiche within the genre – but it is nice. The main quibble is that it feels stagnant. Many of the tracks, although pleasant enough, don't tend to really go anywhere in particular. The tracks are largely built on well established walls of sound, but they're generally supporting thin songs that are driven more by texture than tunes.
An example are the collaborations with Ulrich Schnauss. Ulrich has developed a very distinct style of his own, and you would expect that collaborations with him would yield a more interesting bridge between the two sides. But on "Hypermode" and "NeverChanger", especially, his role seems more to add some modest keyboarding to the existing sound than a true collaboration. "Departure" fares better and delivers a bit more of what you might expect, with Ulrich's trademark swells augmenting A Shoreline Dream's pulsing guitar narrative.
However, they do what they do well. The blissed-out but melancholy dirge of shoegazer music, although less fashionable now than in its heyday, is still the basis for and a direct link to some of the indie rock sub-genres still in effect. And it's to these throngs that A Shoreline Dream should make fast friends. Their sound is solid, if sometimes lacking in direction, but they feel dangerously close to being a band worthy of broader attention beyond their obvious sub-genres.