Yet another super-young band, Pia Fraus is a shoegaze-loving group of 6 who create music that is perfect for summertime. On last years In Solarium, they let loose with 10 glossy tracks that totalled up for a brisk 36 minutes of music. Their guitars shimmered like they'd studied Kevin Shields obsessively, and their multi-part harmonies gave everything a soft singalong coating. The group is now busy recording their second full-length release, and this EP is the cherry-picked tracks from their first self-released disc that caught the ear of the Clairecords label in the first place.
Listening to this batch of 5 tracks (6 if you count the 'hidden' one), it's easy to hear what caught the ear of the label. Although the tracks have a slightly rougher edge, it's actually something that works for the sound of the band. The completely clean sheen that somewhat put me off from their aforementioned full-length is nowhere to be found here. They're still poppier than a lot of bands doing similar things, but it's those slight rough edges that take them to another level for me. The release opens with "Moon Like A Pearl" and really doesn't back off a whole lot in 25 minutes.
That opening track is just over 2 minutes of dreampop bliss, and "Obnoxious" keeps things chugging along with a more spoken-word style vocal and plenty of swirling guitars and keyboards. "Summer Before Spring" has one of the tightest hooks on the release, coiling around nicely during the verses before rocking out more during the choruses. Heck, all the songs on the release pretty much get stuck in your head, and the slightly gritty guitars remind one of that early 90s bliss pop (especially of the better work by Lush) that has been imitated by many but very often done not-so-well.
Interestingly enough, the bonus track on the disc is easily one of the best. A programmed beat driven version of summer, it punches things up with thumping kick drums and plenty of hi-hats and handclaps, yet it fits the vocals and delayed guitars like a glove. It makes me wish the group would inject just a bit more programming into some of their tracks, if only for a bit more dynamics and a sonically wider rhythm palette. That's a fairly minor nitpick, though, and this short release is just the right amount of music from the group. If they can wind a bit more of their early sound into their newest release, I'll be honestly even more excited about it.