The summer jam of 2020.
With so many bands out there falling into the “swancore” sub-genre, it can be hard to keep up. Eidola, Hail The Sun, Stolas, Sianvar, Dance Gavin Dance, Royal Coda and more all fall under this banner. Swancore is aptly referenced to Dance Gavin Dance’s guitarist, Will Swan, who manages his own record label, alongside Sergio Medina (Stolas/Royal Coda) also called Blue Swan Records. While many bands under that label do share plenty of sonic and musical resemblance to DGD, some have their own unique sound, whereas others sound more like a full-on DGD-replica. For the young Pulses., they fall right in the middle with their newest effort, the mathy, colourful and funky post-hardcore of 'Speak It Into Existence.'
'Speak It Into Existence can easily go both ways on that aforementioned swancore spectrum. This LP can indeed sound like a DGD-cover band at times, but the special thing about this group among other DGD-carbon copies is that Pulses. still retain their own distinct style that's them and them alone. These guys carry have that reliable post-hardcore/math rock sound yet they incorporate different influences to create something of their own; something that is refreshing but also very familiar. It's a strong balance. This record is more often than not unpredictable, completely wacky, and quite happy-go-lucky, similar to The Fall of Troy for example, especially with the silly track titles which are also akin to some Chiodos' track titles in terms of silliness. This is a quirky and pleasing record, and it brought back my own enjoyment that I thought I had once lost from most ‘swancore’ acts out there.
The opening title track is one of the more straightforward cuts on offer, only giving you a hint of what is to come on the rest of the record. 'Louisiana Purchase; boasts those fluttering guitar lines akin to Will Swan’s writing style, but not in a way that it sounds unoriginal of course. This track was where I really noticed how prominent and essential the bass guitar is to Pulses.’ funky sound, as it is crystal clear in the mix and has its own musical identity rather than just mimicking the rhythm guitar just for the sake of providing those low-end frequencies. Vocally, the back and forth vocal approaches, in addition to the layering of the harsh and the harmonized sung vocals in tandem with that hypnotic riff make this a highlight. Especially with that glitchy, electronic outro that is unexpected yet also refreshing.
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'Sometimes Y' is a sassy and vibrant song, but unfortunately the forced high-pitch chorus found on this track is somewhat unpleasant, despite the rest of the track being chock-full of interesting passages. 'Exist Warp Brakes' starts off with a comedic back and forth between some gang vocals and the harsh vocals, while the addition of brass instruments really elevates this song to be an eccentric and groovy tune. Tracks like 'Exist Warp Brakes,' in addition to 'Olivia Wild,' 'Good Vibes Only,' 'Don’t Say Anything' are what make Pulses. stand out from other DGD-wannabes out there with these diverse songs that provide a sense of familiarity while still bringing something fresh and unique to the table, well actually to your ears. The cleaner, mathy post-hardcore sounds that we have all grown to love is found all over the place here, with the addition of different instrumental or tonal elements to ensure that there's never a dull or recycled moment throughout its whole runtime.
These dozen tracks that have featured artists add even more variety to these songs providing for an even more enjoyable listen with all the super catchy vocal phrasings and also the clever alternations between the harsh and clean vocals. 'Good Vibes Only (Zuckerberg Watchin’)' is probably one of the funkiest, catchiest songs of the bunch, especially with that “HOOOO” in between each vocal phrase during the verses. 'Don’t Say Anything, Just RT' is one of the heavier moments but that doesn’t mean that Pulses. will shy away from whipping out a saxophone solo out of thin air to make this thing is even sexier than what it already is. In general, despite the heavier passages being far more aggressive, there is just something about the nature of this record that makes me want to cruise down the highway with the windows open; just vibin’ out.
The Dance Gavin Dance influence upon 'Speak It Into Existence' is undeniable, but Pulses. don’t abuse that trope and ultimately come together to make a record that's theirs and theirs alone though exploring different tones and instrumentation. Pulses. take that hugely successful DGD sound, among other influences, like The Fall Of Troy, and expand on them to create a diverse and experimental record that is a real joy to listen through as all of these songs have something different to offer. Admittedly, my enjoyment for this specific type of math-rock and post-hardcore music has been at an all-time low as of recently due to the oversaturation of similar-sounding bands that are nowhere near as unique, but this record, alongside Satyr’s debut, have rekindled my love for it. 'Speak It Into Existence' did take a while to grow on me as I was lukewarm at first, but then it clicked, and I came to realize how great this record is, especially as a fun, bright summertime album. And I'm glad that I finally came around on this wonderful record. Because otherwise, I would’ve been missed out on some damn tasty jams!
Speak It Into Existence
Sometimes Y (ft. Max Bemis)
Exist Warp Brakes
Mt. Midoriyama (ft. Sierra Binondo)
Good Vibes Only (Zuckerberg Watchin’) (ft. Gavin Cole)
Don’t Say Anything, Just RT
Rebel, the Mightiest Cat
Big Mood (ft. Joey Lancaster)
'Speak It Into Existence' is out now: