Memoryhouse - The Slideshow Effect

Memoryhouse have created a record that sets them apart from their peers.

Label: Sub Pop

Rating: 7

Charm, as they say, will get you everywhere. And Memoryhouse have it in buckets. Their albums exude a subdued magic, elegantly and expertly humanising their soft electronica through dreamy textures and photography.

On ‘The Slideshow Effect’ they tweak their template, going from bedroom indie to a fuller sound (the band themselves have joked that it’s ‘Taylor Swift with Built To Spill as her backing band’).

It’s a natural progression from the band’s ‘The Years’ EP. So what we get is still very much Memoryhouse, but evolved. Just listen to the ‘The Kids Were Wrong’ which keeps the longing but ups the tempo, as Denise sings of ‘Finger nails and cold skin, your parents’ bed we lay in.’

It’s this kind of evocative imagery that makes you remember that Memoryhouse didn’t actually set out to be a band but as a collaborative project meant to serve as an artistic outlet for the duo. And while that focus has now shifted somewhat there remains a highly visual quality to their music. Dreamy and cinematic, the whole album conjures up pictures of teenage love and feelings of adolescent yearning.

In fact, ‘The Slideshow Effect’ is all about nostalgia and remembered feelings. This comes through in the recurring lyrical themes which give the impression that a story is being told. The album’s title refers to the photographic/cinematic technique of zooming and panning to animate still images – and it’s often like they’re focusing in on moments in time, skimming through photo albums and looking back, sometimes regretfully, sometimes with clarity.

Take ‘All Our Wonder’, on which Denise sings, “we’re not the lucky ones, we’ll never be the lucky ones.” This is the end of a relationship replayed and the acceptance that comes from that. Elsewhere the tender, remorseful ‘Punctum’ stands out.

The dreamy pop sound seems to have been done to death recently but with ‘The Slideshow Effect’ Memoryhouse have created a record that sets them apart from their peers. This is a wonderfully wistful album which shows a band who have grown beyond the ideas which earlier defined them to produce a sound and vision that works perfectly.