Fotoform is a Seattle-based post-punk outfit with a strong base of 1980’s influences that include early Cocteau Twins, The Cure, Slowdive and The Chameleons among others. Kim House (bass, vocals) and Geoffrey Cox (guitars) started the band and are long-time collaborators, having been together since their previous project – the similarly dark and goth-adjacent C’est la Mort. The band is currently hard at work on their sophomore album which is slated to release before 2021 ends. For now however, we’ll be reviewing their stellar self-titled album from 2017.
The album was praised both locally and nationally, with its single “I Know You’re Charming” featured as KEXP Song of the Day and the whole LP voted as one of the top albums during its release. Kim House has a high-pitched voice that’s perfect for cold and haunting emotions, which goes along with the sharp whirlwind of guitar machinations from Geoffrey Cox. The band’s use of sonic textures can sometimes be abrasive, at times full of glimmering brightness and sometimes gothic. The world they’ve created is gloomy and spine-chilling, with plenty of blissful movements and large choral pay-offs.
Aside from the gorgeous dream-pop effervescence of their aforementioned lead single, other highlights in here include the opener “In Winter”, with its vocals capable of invoking chills and its cathedral of riffs enabling every bit of invulnerability cut through. “Every Instant” has eerie stringwork backed by the on-point drum work from Garrett Croxon. For a song about moments in time slipping away, the rhythm flourishes really hit the mark. “Yves Klein Blue” steps in a different direction, filled with sweet synths that contrast the bitter melancholy expressed by House’s pained lyrics. “The City Breathes” has more urgency, larger-than-life and has a heavy dose of dissonance. The gothic shades from their previous songs are now clouded with an industrial gloom – depicting a city that’s trying to suffocate its inhabitants. Despite the dread it’s surprisingly dancy!
Fotoform is one of those bands that pull off their own shoegaze, dreampop and post-punk connection quite well. Those 80’s genres have a definite charm to them. The atmosphere, technical prowess and mood combine to paint a stark portrait of our times. Something the band definitely nails with expertise.