Death can’t stop the noise-pop powerhouse Black Dresses, who have returned with a haunting new record, Forever In Your Heart, even after disbanding last May. This album provides an incredibly refreshing take on flavours that have been brewing in the alternative pop scene for the past few years.
The Toronto duo’s fifth full-length record in three years could not have been released at a better time. The draining, post-industrial tension that encompasses its fifty-minute length feels all too familiar in the endless days spent at home, staring at our computer and progressively losing our sanity. However there are brief moments of respite and catharsis, ‘Heaven’ and ‘Waiting42moro’ give a resolution to that tension and prevents the record from being a challenge to listen to.
In the opening track ‘PEACESIGN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!’, Black Dresses ping-pong between metallic industrial riffs and ethereal melodic sections. It feels like an anxiety-fueled fever dream in the best way possible. While being very abrasive at times, Forever In Your Heart still managed to be a very intimate and vulnerable piece of music. Between the moments of anger, members Devi McCallion and Ada Rook give the listener a brief grasp into their fears. This effect is strangely remnant of 90s Slipknot and Korn, where through the cracks of hyper-masculine anger, anxiety and insecurity shone through. ‘Mistake’ is the perfect example of this more personal and quiet side of the duo.
During a time where hyperpop is taking electronic music by storm while bands like Code Orange and Vein digitize heavy music for a post-internet generation, Forever In Your Heart fits perfectly into the current cultural zeitgeist. However, Black Dresses simultaneously break the mold and create a record that doesn’t quite sound like anything else out there right now. It’s very difficult to categorize Black Dresses and the noise pop label they’re given doesn’t even begin to encapsulate the sheer magnitude of their sound.
Lyrically, this record is very bleak and apocalyptic, mediating in songs like ‘Tiny Ball’ and ‘We’ll Figure It Out’ on the existential dread many are feeling in this day and age. Black Dresses don’t pull any punches or hide behind obtuse poetry. The blunt and hypnotic lyricism slams the listener to the floor with its painful realism.
The production on Forever In Your Heart is relatively simple, considering that of their contemporaries. With how much is already going on, this makes the record easier to listen to and adds to its painful intimacy. There’s no filter, just an uncensored barrage of emotion.
This is an incredible record and one that will surely end up on many year-end best-of lists. But, with that being said, it is not without its faults. Forever In Your Heart often has a very stream-of-consciousness feel to it and while that contributed to its vulnerability, more thought and care could have made this record a masterpiece.