I’ve always been amused at how some bands can weave together sounds that most people would call ‘noise’ and rearrange and mix them together to create something that sounds blissful. It’s certainly a niche idea on the mainstream that in my opinion, shouldn’t be the case. Take for example, Portland’s We Miss the Earth – the side project of Mistina La Fave (The Prids) and their latest work 2016’s Memory Design. It falls under the category of noise pop with influences from darkwave and (of course) shoegaze. The sounds in this album are top-notch. The layering of various effects, textures and drum machines feels so seamless that they all seem to blend into one. The distinction between guitars and synths disappears, forming together into a cohesive entity. A mark of good sound design.
This savvy instrumentation is mixed with a good sense of pop sensibilities. It’s easy to miss the subtleties of sound when you’re glued to the hooks, but with every repeat listen they slowly unravel themselves. Like in “What’s Decided Here” — with its washed out harmonies and hazy textures, all bound together in a foamy sea of sound. Or the ever-catchy “I Miss the Earth” with its space-transmission lines zipping through the mix over pulsing drums and synths. Chris Koza and Mistina La Fave certainly poured their expertise and dedication into piecing every sound and arrangement, which shows in how there’s hardly a dull moment in here.
Other notable songs include “Divination” with its stadium-worthy beat and clever substitution of familiar rock sounds into synths and effects. Marrying the familiar with something that’s unconventional. “Destroyed” is drenched in grainy noise that may sound harsh individually but together they create a calmness – much like rain pouring outside on a stormy day. Destructive yet necessary. “Losers” is another favorite, a song full of blaring sirens and glossy shimmering riffs. In some sections it feels like a bombardment – fitting for the titular ‘losers’ who take advantage and only “want to take you for a ride.”
We Miss the Earth turns something alien and unfamiliar and harnesses it into something much closer to heart. Memory Design is an easy recommendation for those looking for dark-tinged shoegaze or an off-kilter pop experience.