Throws – Throws (2016)

throwsThrows are an indie-pop duo based in Iceland’s frigid coastal capital of Reykjavik. Proclaimed as heavily mediated on themes of the ocean and lifestyle on the industrial sea harbour, Throws’ self-titled debut album promises to encapsulate their culture in an auditory account.

Their opening track ‘The Harbour’ initially establishes this cultural impression with strong choir-esque harmonies and a jangly surf-rock guitar melody laden over a synth-pop style swing. Lyrically, harmonically and sonically, ‘The Harbour’ represents their Reykjavik industrial harbour culture at best. The first impression is promising.

From here, I feel like the album goes downhill with the abrupt change of musical style introduced by the second track, ‘Punch Drunk Love.’ Throws suddenly embark on an uncertain flirtation with indie-psychedelic rock, but without all the expression in effects and texture to realise it’s full potential, almost as if the song is unfinished. The heavy doubling/slapback delay has saturated the voice to the point of confusion, which is unfortunately carried out through the better part of the record.

The crescendo of ‘High Pressure Front’ and quirky drumbeats of ‘Knife’ are cool glimmers for Throws’ more experimental side of songwriting, but only sparsely pique my attention amongst the lacklustre of ‘Silence in Between’ and the same confusion of synth-pop and psychedelic indie-rock in their other tracks. However, ‘Sun Gun’ immediately ropes me back in with a piano melody enriched in a fluttery vinyl drone unravelling into a gorgeous multi-instrumental orchestration of texture and beauty. The saturation of effects on the voice is abolished for this track, which is somewhat relieving and consoling in how well it fits in ‘Sun Gun’. The cool and quirky lyrics establish a quasi-state of melancholic prosody; ‘Sun Gun’ is by far my favourite track of the record.

‘Bask’ and ‘Play the Part’ subsequently reintroduce the same confusing musical theme and almost unidentifiable vocals from the first half of the record. With only a few bare shifts from these parameters, these characteristics are becoming relatively taxing at this point. ‘Learn Something’ features a fun electronic drum part, but promptly becomes lost when the other instrumentation is introduced only to barely keep up with the electronic rhythms.

Throws’ final track ‘Under the Ice’ features a strong spoken word component that feels tremendously out of context from the record. At least the mood of the song is fitting to the album’s close, despite the almost grating movements between arrangements.

In summary, I feel like Throws didn’t really know what they wanted Throws to sound like. Their record jumps somewhat jarringly between psychedelic, surf-rock, indie, shoegaze, and synth-pop in an apparent mismarriage. The dreary lack of dynamic is perpetuated far too much on the album with only a few brief moments that grabbed my attention. A record like this may appeal to some, but sadly not to me.

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