reviewed by Michael Thomas
Dave Shaw excels at creating deeply sad lo-fi pop music as Orlando Gloom, and several recordings in you’d think he would run out of sad album titles. But nope! Today I learned the word “lacuna” has nothing to do with the sunny-looking picture on the album cover. It actually means an unfilled space or gap.
Shaw’s songs often address that unfilled space, which is usually a lack of romance. Some romances have long burned away, while others seem to be on the precipice of going bad. As usual for Orlando Gloom, the music is for the most part very upbeat, punchy synth-pop music, so you really have to plug in to absorb the stories he’s telling.
In “Learn,” for example, the thing he wants to learn is how “to love something again.” With a repeating line of keys behind him, Shaw sings of wanting to go back to when things were simpler, but it’s far too late for that now. Everything feels over. “Laugh It Off” feels like a tense standoff between two people, again set to upbeat music. Shaw teeters between making everything sound wonderful one second and horrific the next: “Let’s tear the whole damn thing, I feel alright: it’s amazing.”
Shaw almost finds a sense of hope on “Get Better.” It seems to talk of a relationship both sides are intent on improving, but actually Shaw repeats the phrase “It won’t get worse, it won’t get better.” Stasis doesn’t seem like an improvement, but it also seems marginally better than Orlando Gloom’s usual…gloom.
The highlight of the EP is “Sweet Dreams on the TL,” a slower burn of a song where Shaw’s gloomy vocal style meshes perfectly with a darker musical backdrop. The song actually reminded me a lot of Paradise Animals (RIP), right down to the vocal tone and murkiness. It’s a darkly dreamy song about spending hours looking at a former lover’s social media account.
The art for this EP was a picture take on the Yucatana Peninsula. As always, its sunniness contradicts what’s really happening, and it’s the ethos of Orlando Gloom’s music at this point. It’s an ethos that feels deeply affecting with every one of Shaw’s albums.
Top Track: “Sweet Dreams on the TL”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)