“Cold Shoulders,” the debut single by indie rock band Morning Arcade, is your soundtrack to the chilly golden hour of a crisp fall evening. Combining influences of lofty shoegaze and modern indie surf rock, the result is a laid-back, dreamy, even cinematic soundscape.
The guitar riff grips you right out of the gate. Its soft, syrupy-smooth tone floats melodically on top of a bubbling, bouncing bass line that carries throughout the song’s three-minute and forty-seven-second run. Soon, the audience is introduced to the low, sultry main vocals. True to the signature sound of shoegaze, the vocal melody is comprised of long sustained notes, flowing out of vocalist Bethan Ayres like water. The melody proves Ayres to have an impressive vocal range, as it swoops below the average alto’s comfortable lower register, but also has moments of higher, airy notes which require the use of her head voice. A little more than halfway through the tune, we hear a guitar solo that derives from the initial opening riff, but this time with a rougher, sharper guitar tone. In the final chorus, we hear high, soaring guitar notes float in the background, right before the song slows and quiets, bringing it to a natural conclusion.
“Cold Shoulders” sounds like it could come straight from a Pale Saints record, and fits right in with the aesthetics and moods of shoegaze in its hayday. The mixing and overall production lies more in line with what we’ve come to hear in modern indie rock, lacking the static-y white noise quality of shoegaze. It instead delivers a clean, polished sound, making it more marketable and accessible to a broader audience. This is a creative choice I personally agree with, seeing as lyrics as beautiful as “too many lives for us all to live/my mother can’t do it all/The power in unyielding hands/Swollen hearts blackened by fuel” are too meaningful to be muddled out by an overcrowded soundboard.
Morning Arcade is the new indie rock band that’s bringing new life to corners of rock that have been largely left untouched. The five-piece band draws influences from a variety of genres ranging from indie to synthwave, and combines their favorite elements of each to give you a unique, all-encompassing listening experience.
Written by Jess Ward