A Ritual Sea: promising debut from French-Irish dream pop band

Fri, Sep 24, 2021, 05:00

   
  

Album:
A Ritual Sea

Artist:
A Ritual Sea

Label:
Icy Cold Records

Genre:
Alternative

Shoegaze, dream pop, dreamwave, neo-psychedelia, ethereal rock: Call it what you will, but this dormant early ’90s genre never really went away. Earlier this year, the eventual arrival of My Bloody Valentine’s (MBV) back catalogue seemed to generate even more publicity than their reunion in 2008, despite a lack of new material. 

The term has also mutated and expanded into numerous splinter genres – “nu gaze” (DIIV), “blackgaze” (Alcest, Deafheaven). Basically, if the guitars sound a bit weird, drop a shoegaze reference or MBV comparison or two.

French-Irish quintet A Ritual Sea formed in 2016. They’ve been building up a head of hazy steam at Other Voices and supporting Jane Weaver. Lead vocals alternate between Florian Chombart and Donna McCabe, while Chombart and Nina Ruminska create shimmering layers of spectral guitars, reminiscent of the overused “cathedrals of sound” tag that followed around bands such as Slowdive.

Because You Hate to Care About stands out as one of their finest and catchiest numbers, but there’s plenty to get lost in and admire on this promising eponymous debut. Sometimes they set the amps to 11 on noisy cuts such as Violet, but they also know when to pare it back and lure the listener into a slow and dreamy netherworld.

A Ritual Sea sold out in Whelan’s in early 2020, so it will be interesting to see how they’ll progress live. Music this good deserves to be witnessed at a very loud volume.