Reviewed by: Max Miller
Nashville, TN has long held its reputation as the country music capital of the world, but for those whose tastes in guitar music errs on the side of crunch over twang, the city has lately been a bastion for young rockers. JEFF the Brotherhood are among the city’s most famous exports, and their label, Infinity Cat, has introduced the world to other locals like Diarrhea Planet and Natural Child. Idle Bloom sound like they could be another one of the gems panned from the Cumberland River by the venerable label. Instead, their debut LP Little Deaths comes to us on Nashville indie newcomer Fraternity As Vanity. And while Idle Bloom hail from the home of the Grand Ole Opry, they sound like they could easily come from the same verdant Massachusetts climes that produced the likes of Dinosaur Jr. and Speedy Ortiz.
Little Deaths is a record overflowing with urgency. Songs like “Hive,” “Goner” and wailing closer “Disease” truck along at breakneck speed, with Olivia Scibelli and Gavin Schriver’s guitars dueling for the right to be dubbed most face-melting. Even the comparatively mid-tempo opener “Seeker” feels like it wants to break free and fall to pieces at the axle. Scibelli’s vocals are triumphant and replete with pop-punk “woah-ohs” reminiscent of the Thermals’ Hutch Harris. Most of the cuts on Little Deaths are short, propelled on by bassist Katie Banyay and drummer Weston Sparks as they leave no room for boredom. Toward the latter half of the album, such as on “Sleeper” or “Dust,” Idle Bloom lock into a slower, more dream-pop-oriented groove. On climactic penultimate track “Wake,” Scibelli and Schriver’s guitars morph into a sea of pitch-shifted riffs, slowly crashing into each other.
Though they may be full to bursting with youthful energy, Idle Bloom seek to distinguish themselves in a rock climate electrically charged with burgeoning talent. Rock may no longer be the dominant musical idiom, but kids across the country have been upping their game on the indie level, demonstrating why the genre, in all its many permutations, means too much to them to let it fade away. Little Deaths is a promising introduction to Idle Bloom, but it may easily become lost in the shuffle of hungry new bands. It’s up to the band now to take the running start they’ve made with their debut and really leap somewhere with it. But if coming from Nashville has taught them anything, it’s that you can go a long way with a couple guitars and a dream.