Mentalease | Living Dream
by Lee Adcock
Do you find solace in noise? Spencer Harris does. Hence, the name of his one-man bedroom project: Mentalease. It’s a fusion of shoegaze’s inchoate texture with psychedelic, Spaceman 3-ish songcraft that plays like a wholesome, blissful sort of dream pop. For a solo endeavor, Harris’s debut LP, Living Dream, is remarkably dense and rich in detail – and even more remarkable for those crystal-clear pieces of melody that stab through the undulating currents and pierce your heart.
It’s these moments of striking clarity over chaos that lend this album its charm. Take ‘Des Moines’, the opener Even with the raucous reverse-splashing cymbals and the jangling, echoing racket, one brilliantly distorted riff slices through the mix for a memorable refrain. In another golden track, ‘False Positive’, an astral whistling pierces through a shimmering curtain of guitar, yielding only sheer bliss. Wistful, gentle vocals rise to the top in ‘Waiting For You’, while the bubbling instrumental ‘Post-Nostalgia Withdrawal’ boasts a glorious, searing guitar solo. Elsewhere, the fluid warping and bending of the lead on ‘Breaking Through’, coupled with riffs that soar over the track, is absolutely almighty.
Surprisingly, the outlier on this album is actually the psychedelic title track – instead of those shoegazing swaths of noise, one sleepy, twangy guitar meanders along to a tambourine’s shake and a hollow, wind-howl loop. It’s a refreshing, soothing number, and truly one of the most beautiful on the album. However, the massive (and achingly familiar) chords on ‘Molecules in Motion’ are worthy of admiration, too.
At times, Harris also discards the typical shoegaze fuzz for some trippy loops. In the slow pulse of ‘Presence’, a vibrating ray of echoes floats through the mellow track, while a lone guitar reaches euphoric highs. An even more vibrant, reversed loop shimmers in ‘Beauty in the Dark’, while a cryptic, slowed-down voice crawls upward to the light in the refrain.
Even if you’re not currently a believer in the therapeutic properties of shoegaze, you will be after listening to Living Dream. It’s out now on Mentalease’s Bandcamp page, in an array of colors and sizes – choose from a custom-stamped CD (approximately £3.30!) or a limited edition, neon-colored vinyl (£6.60!). You’ll be guaranteed a unique piece of art, in both form and content.