Houston postpunk/shoegaze outfit Astragal, intelligently named after the semi-autobiographical novel, L’Astragale, the first of three by French-Algerian author and fierce libertarian Albertine Sarrazin, released their second EP earlier this month, simply titled II. The trio announced their presence three years ago with a short three track debut and followed it up with three more on a Split EP with fellow Texans Donna Hayward in 2017. This release, again sporting three tracks proper as well as the brief ambience of ‘Scenery‘, is suggestive not only of broader ambition but also a tighter focus set within a more diverse musical palate .
While the positively soaring angularity of the reverb soaked ‘Bloomer‘ released as a standalone single last year reminds most of that sound and approach, its multi-faceted structure and the attention given to its outer layers and internal dynamics are suggestive of the scope of those diverse ambitions. But what largely stands EP II apart from those first two releases, songwriting wise, are its bookends. Opener ‘Wilt‘ is a definitive departure and resting as it does atop a twin tempo that provides the basis for both its disciplined atmospherics and tense pop aesthetic while the pacy incessant flow of radiant closer ‘Moderne Luxury‘, positively glows with depth and blazing passion. The earnest and yearning vocal is used to complement and heighten the emotion to full and proper effect across all three tracks and further indicative of the trio’s growth.
While the familiar motifs of delay driven and reverb soaked shoegaze, angular postpunk and generous nods to jangle and dream pop are evidently influential in Astragal’s approach and sound, the places they take these three musical elements and the close dynamic between the layered guitars, adventurous bass lines and tight rhythms render this release a winner in every sense. A thrilling ride you’ll want to take again and again.
James Stocker – March 19, 2019.
Listen to EP II below and order it to own digitally here.
From the EP, ‘II’, Self Released.