Cathedral Bells – Ether

If the properties gossamer and silk could be represented in sonic form, then Cathedral Bells’ latest LP Ether should be as close as one can get. The Florida three-piece led by Matthew Messore released their follow up to 2020’s Velvet Spirit with a much refined production and even bolder sounds and textures. Lo-fi dream pop, coldwave and shoegaze all converge into this album, with an overall sound that feels untethered to the laws of gravity. Each song conveys a delicate quality to it that could only have only been achieved with extreme precision and care. As such, it’s not hard to enjoy every unique and otherworldly moment in this collection.

Messore took his influences from 90’s and 80’s cassettes and infused them with modern sensibilities. What started as a solo project has now flourished into a full-fledged band that manages to combine the old and the new.

Opening track “Invisible” presents a warm and dreamy landscape of patterned synths and glossy textures. Messore’s vocals passes by a sweeping prism that makes the space feel even more expansive. It’s like being swallowed by the ocean while thousands of light rays are refracted from the surface. Follow up “Dayflower” feels like a washed out memory from yesteryear; a definite hit for fans of The Cure. The hazy quality of this tune makes it feel like a fond memory that can only be vaguely remembered, yet one that still invites a welcome feeling. 

Other highlights include “Dark Aura”, where a flood of shoegaze textures dominates the mix and gives the delicate feel of its predecessors a sharper, rougher and edgier twist. This is one of their more experimental tracks, with textural layers that are bolder in its technicality, and it pays off tremendously. Meanwhile, the title track stands out as having the catchiest melody in this album. Carried by a syncopated reggae beat and a seamless pop structure, this exhibits a good marriage between the band’s signature style and modern pop sensibilities. The album closes with a mix between dreamy and urgent in “Ghost Dream”. It’s upbeat and excited nature contrasts with the band’s gentle aesthetic, making for a roller-coaster ride that makes this song about love and reconnection all the more poignant.

Cathedral Bells knocked it out of the park yet again in their sophomore album. Ether finds them refining their sound and identity even further with plenty of promise for the future.

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