After only forming in late 2016, local four-piece Physical Release have found a sound that might take other acts years to hone in on. The opening track off their debut release, ‘cassingle’ Medicinal/Under Skin, captures this succinctly in under four minutes, but it’s one that will get under your skin and stay there.
Medicinal opens with glowing snarl of the chorus-laden slide guitar, while the drum machine provides a head-nodding undercurrent for the prompt arrival of Sarah Arney’s serene vocals. Her voice is understated and steady throughout the track, and despite clearly being gifted with a great range and vocal techniques, she never strays from the vibe of the song.
The slide guitar provides an unlikely sense of warmth in the track, like a candle in a darkened room, with ghostly swells pulsating over and under the mix. While the drum beat isn’t particularly intricate you can tell the tempo and tone of the track’s backbone was well-considered to let other elements shine. Similarly, the bass and synth lines pulse along like on a factory line with precision and purpose.
Physical Release have crafted a very well defined sound that blends elements of goth and shoegaze that leans towards restraint and textures more than flair and emotional expression. It’s strange to say but it really is refreshing how restrained and mechanical it is with no member ever seeming interested in having their own ‘moment’. It will be interesting to see if the group can realise greater musical ambitions within such a well-defined sound or can expand into new creative territory without compromising their clearly well-considered aesthetic.