With a new self-titled EP out on June 22 and some upcoming shows spread across the length of California, the four members of The Silhouette Era are poised for a busy summer. The band established themselves with 2015’s Beacons, and couple of (quite strong) singles followed in 2016, but The Silhouette Era EP is their first release since then.
Their Monterey origins are reflected in Beacons’ air of seaside heartache — its wistful melodies are unrushed and affecting. The Silhouette Era preserved a slice of California nostalgia with that album: It’s a lovely snapshot of just a few years ago, hewing close to the beachy, clean guitar/aching vocals/upper-middle-tempo drums formula that’s emblematic of the time. Real Estate, Beach Fossils, Surfer Blood, Smith Westerns — all those vaguely nautical surf revival guitar jams.
But the years have rolled on, as have musical tastes, and as have we all. The Silhouette Era’s sound too has evolved, taking on new shades of feeling. Maybe their current residence in San Francisco, with its streams of traffic and wind and humanity beneath a faintly charming patina of grime, has driven them to take the tempo and distortion up a couple notches to match the city’s rhythm and grit. Singer Carlos Gonzalez’s voice has gained a bit of an edge as well; he certainly sounds more confident. The single, “Waste Me,” brings to mind fellow residents Culture Abuse, who also pound out self-renouncing diatribes. Listening to the Silhouette Era also recalls Mare Island, another excellent local act. They seem like kindred spirits.
The rest of the EP oscillates between melancholic anger and resignation, as in “Riptide.” “Palms” is a nervy rocker of minor chords and guitar work that meanders and jitters around the neck instead of settling on anything resembling a riff — “I get lost in you,” goes the song’s most recognizable refrain. In their bio, they’re compared to Wavves and FIDLAR, but this more sobering stuff than a manic pop anthem for cheap beer and weed. (FIDLAR just released a single that’s simply called “Alcohol.” The bands are operating in some different emotional territories.) “Jaded Summer” closes the EP with a farewell to sunny youthful days shot through with nostalgia and earnest pain. By the end, it comes to feel like the Silhouette Era is projecting the memory of a memory, filtered and abraded by time.
The Silhouette Era is out on June 22.