The sweeping synths and deep bass on intro track “Depersonalised” give way to the ringing opening guitar line of “Fill The Void”, where depressed vocals and driving bass lines make for an obvious initial comparison to Joy Division, though the reverb-soaked guitar chords and beautiful melodic instrumental work that build throughout the song takes it in an entirely different and satisfying new direction. “You I Never Knew” is a bittersweet pop song with parallel guitar lines dancing around a relentless military beat, while “Come Down” carves an achingly beautiful melody out of wall-of-noise reverb, cutting guitar, and heavy rhythmic drumming, showing off the band’s masterful combination of dark ambiance and memorable pop song writing.
Like Joy Division, most of the songs are driven on by drums and bass. But where Nite Fields differentiate themselves is through their understanding of melody and harmony, with repeating swirling guitar riffs and icy reverb, over hypnagogic monotone vocals. There are a few surprises on this release, like the clean-sounding traditional goth rock of “Prescription” or the psych-acoustic folk of “Like A Drone”, but generally the revels in a consistent and melancholy shoegaze. Rarely do you hear this type of music sounding so detailed and clear, but Nite Fields have avoided the propensity of similarly-inspired indie bands to bury their intricacies in fuzz,. It’s a wonderful mix of high-quality mixing, nostalgic influences, honest lyricism, and emotional vocals, making for an inspiring debut.
“Fill the Void” is the first time we hear a human voice, and we barely place its latency as it hugs the backdrop of a distant bass guitar. Somewhere between Nick Cave and Morrissey, vocalist Danny Venzin doesn't quite sing, rather, he mourns with an alluring grace that haunts. It's difficult to pinpoint individual instruments due to the reverb and a lo-fi quality. As a result, “Fill the Void” is just that: an abyss so vast that sounds bounce back and forth before getting lost in an amorphous cloud of energy and noise.
Most of the album plays out like this; each track resembling a psych-rock, dream-pop outro of sorts. “Come Down” is another track that casts moody shadows as it nestles between similarly reverberated tracks, but alternatively, more upbeat ones, like “Pay For Strangers.” This short, but sweet, song is timid, yet warmer than previous tunes. Despite an awkward tempo hiccup between an ambient guitar and a more structured bass drum around the first minute, the track resolves in a refreshing glow that counters the melancholic, broody songs that came before.
“You I Never Knew” is the single from Depersonalisation, and it should be. It's the song with the most structure and probably the clearest vocals, making it perfect for new listeners to grasp onto. A moderately tempo-ed drumset keeps the track lively, while the bassline and the guitar swirl around droning vocals that sing of “missed connections.”
Depersonalisation is an album that's less about music and more about an ambiance. In this way, it can be a tad boring and hard to grasp; a sort of “background music” that isn't exactly dismissable, but not always memorable or enticing either. However, to give credit where credit is due, Depersonalisation is an ethereal piece of work that floats somewhere overhead, regurgitating a mood and painting an atmosphere, leaving the listener a shade darker with each listen.