Serena Maneesh | Serena Maneesh (Honeymilk)

The entire album seems on the verge of self-destruction, threatening to implode under its own weight. Everything is in extremes.

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Cheer up, indie kid. OK, so Seth Cohen may have given your beloved Death Cab for Cutie to ten-year-old girls and Atlantic Records, Natalie Portman may have introduced the “life-changing” Shins and Iron & Wine to your older sisters, and your favorite mixtape has somehow been repackaged into The O.C. Mix 97, but let’s leave all of that behind. Besides, everyone knows Sub Pop is so 2005. You’ve been listening to those pansies blubbering into their coffee for so long, you’ve forgotten what every indie kid really needs: some good old-fashioned Norweigian neo-shoegazing.

Enter Serena Maneesh, with enough cred and obscurity to keep the most discerning elitist satisfied. Pitchfork Media gave their self-titled debut an 8.6 and named it the 29th best album of 2005 even though the record hasn’t officially been released Stateside yet (which leaves you open to brag about how you ordered it specially from Honeymilk), and Sufjan Stevens, everyone’s favorite Illinoisemaker, makes a guest appearance doing flute and marimba duty. The bassist even looks like Nico! Could this band be the greatest band ever?

In all seriousness, Serena Maneesh have produced a compelling and arresting debut for anyone willing to find the unconventional beauty that it offers. The entire album seems on the verge of self-destruction, threatening to implode under its own weight. Everything is in extremes. Gorgeous guitar lines combine with fierce chords in “Candlelighted.” “Sapphire Eyes” is a journey in itself: a shrieking wall of sound introduction followed by a beautiful radio-friendly chorus, frenetic dueling guitar solos followed by two minutes of droning. Even in the song closest to being a straightforward rock song, “Un Deux,” trademark shoegazing guitar fuzz is juxtaposed with soaring vocals to create something breathtaking.

Standout 12-minute closer “Your Blood in Mine” begins as a delirious mess of a song, taking one guitar riff and beating it into submission with building intensity for nine full minutes when, curiously, the track diverges into a poignant piano melody. After the furious struggle, we also hear the aching capitulation. Through this sonic disorder, Serena Maneesh convey a range of emotions that is rarely carried out so unconventionally yet effectively in indie music today. In your face, James Mercer!

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