Indie four-piece Bleach Lab journey through grief on their debut EP A Calm Sense of Surrounding with the presence of a well-established band, excelling in both concept and execution.
Bleach Lab‘s A Calm Sense of Surrounding was written as a collaborative effort, documenting two experiences of grief: the death of bassist Josh Longman’s father and the breakdown of singer Jenna Kyle’s relationship. The two work through the five stages of grief with intimate candour, each song on the EP representing one of the stages.
Opening track ‘Old Ways’ presents Kyle in the final moments with her partner. “Before you say it, I think I already know/ I never said it, you made it up on your own,” she sings, all the frustration and anger coming through the chorus like a transcription from their last argument. Guitarist Frank Wates quietly does a lot of heavy lifting in forming the atmosphere of the EP, creating calm lakes or raging white waters in the hypnotic soundscape of every track.
Even at a short 20 minutes, A Calm Sense of Surrounding still has the space to build upon its sound, ramping up tension and culminating in the dynamic ‘Flood.’ This is Bleach Lab at their darkest, dealing with the penultimate stage of depression. The rippling reverb from Wates’ guitar now conjures images of murky, ominous water. Kyle’s voice here is crystal clear and alluring, like a siren drawing you deeper and deeper into the unknown where Longman’s emotive, rip current of a bass line sweeps through the track. Bleach Lab form a harmonious relationship on ‘Flood,’ moving together almost effortlessly, each instrument complimenting the natural ebb and flow of the others. Kyle sings “I’m in his words, I’m in his mouth,” losing all sense of herself in the aftermath of her broken relationship, drowning into the song’s turbulent, enveloping climax.
Mazzy Star’s bluesy, country-rock influence on Bleach Lab is most clearly displayed in ‘Scars,’ closing out the EP with melancholic acceptance. Wates dials down the guitar effects, bringing a stripped-back and necessary clarity to this song. “I don’t want to hurt anymore,” Kyle sings, just waiting for time to heal her wounds. The stage of acceptance is not about restoring happiness — or even finding complete closure — for Bleach Lab. It’s about learning lessons and using them to move forward, forging a new path in life.
A Calm Sense of Surrounding by Bleach Lab is out March 19 and you can listen here.