On their new album Flaw, the L.A. doomgaze group Iress sound both emotionally and musically powerful.
The band members have captured billowing clouds of heavy sound, with piercingly contemplative guitar rhythms, inwardly resonant basslines, and drum rhythms that feel like kicking up stones along a beach. (Ocean-related imagery appears repeatedly on Flaw.) There’s something truly, deeply inviting about the listening experience of Flaw; it’s inescapably powerful, but not oppressive, like the record has captured a place for peaceful and honest emotional self-assessment.
The band’s sonic imprint feels heavy yet strikingly emotionally accessible. Many of the guitar melodies feature a kind of big and booming sound, veering between restrained, shoegazey territory and weighty doom metal. It’s a doomy, post-metal palette that’s been inflected with swaying melodies. The riffs feel like they’re slowly flowing outward towards the listener, as if the album is a soundtrack for a metaphorical waterfall, and there’s a slow but steady push that keeps this experience going.
The melodies themselves feel finely tuned and directly poignant. All tracks but one are no longer than a little over five minutes, and within these spans, the songs deliver substantial emotional impacts, like the sonic encapsulation of the solemn, subtle majesty of a series of ocean waves running ashore one after the other on an overcast day. There’s a steady and stable vibe in the music of Iress, even amidst the heaviness.
Amidst the sometimes repeating, shuddering riffs, there are repeated bursts of energy smoothly interwoven into the mix. These moments – like the intense dynamics towards the end of opening track “Shamed,” the dramatic crescendos on the lengthy “Shallow,” and others – feel like peering over the edge of a seaside cliff.
The soulfully resonant singing from the band’s vocalist/guitarist Michelle Malley is another important element in the sound of Iress. Malley sings with a poignant and expressive range, capturing a windswept emotional journey with the tone of her voice. The instrumentation does the same; it’s consistently a quite experiential and rather richly immersive listening experience.
There’s a somber power in Iress’s sound, grounding the record in the emotional experience of grappling with steep metaphorical peaks that offer both promise and uncertainty. It’s like the sound of standing on the beach during a cold and cloudy day. Iress sound like they’re venturing to explore the undercurrents that affect our lives in profound ways.
Listen to Flaw below!