Melancholy never sounded so ravishingly luxuriant as on the new album Fear the Softest Gaze from Bakersfield-based duo Fawns of Love. The band will also be playing an unmissable free show for Synth Night at Riley’s Tavern in Bakersfield, CA, on November 18th. The new record serves as the follow-up to Innocence of Protection, though in the interim, they’ve released two EPs: Momentary and Unrequited Love Songs.
This time around vocalist Jenny Andreotti and multi-instrumentalist Joseph Andreotti embrace the cold desolation that seeps into their reverb-chilled soundscapes. Yet despite resounding with their dismal lyricism the songs on the album arrive inviting and urgent, like the transmissions of a world where such doldrums are strangely radiant.
To this end, Fawns of Love channel their innate talents for the melodically ethereal toward transporting you to this enchanting netherworld. Its intro “Fear the Softest Gaze” serves as the wondrous portal via which you find yourself entombed in their prismatic and sonorous synth textures. On “Ambrose Pierce” — a nod to the American writer Ambrose Bierce and his grim literary realism — the pair are joined by Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening and K Records. His bottomless baritone vocals provide a beautiful antithesis to Jenny’s gleaming cries.
While “Courting the Devil’s Printer” (another allusion to Bierce, who served as a printer’s assistant) gives voice to feelings of hopelessness and perpetual anguish amidst droning guitars and distantly glimmering synths. The track seamlessly blends right into the dark romancer “Poison Sweat Nightshade.”
The aptly titled “Nihilism is Nice” finds the duo engulfed by the tempting freedom that comes with abandoning all meaning and purpose, Jenny’s ghostly affirmations floating weightlessly alongside bubbling electronica. Fear the Softest Gaze reaches dire new lows on “Broken Bodies of Violent Storms,” as the band’s lamentable lyricism collides with their turbulent but still sadly lambent tones.
But the band saves one more surprise collaboration for its finale: reuniting with Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins for an alternate version of the album’s title track. One that manages to make the song one of the more hauntingly lingering moments on the album. It also comes with a fittingly eerie music video comprised of vintage shots of women posing for a camera, this version of the song bestowing a vaporously dreamy gauze to the images.
Words: Steven Ward
See Fawns of Love at Riley’s Tavern in Bakersfield, CA on November 18th.