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Somehow dream popping shoegazers Film School never broke as big as their peers. Maybe that’s because they released their first album in 2001, almost a decade after the genre’s heyday, but the California five-piece has achieved something some of those old-schoolers didn’t: longevity. We Weren’t Here, the band’s sixth LP, serves as an unofficial twentieth anniversary disk, and it’s more than worthy of any extra attention that accolade might bring. While many shoegazers can be happy cranking the distortion and just gliding atop minimalist melodies, singer-guitarists Greg Bertens and Nyles Lannon write fully formed songs, with thoughtful lyrics, verses, choruses and spines. “Stratospheric Tendencies,” “Take What You Need” and earcatching opener “Superperfection” show as much attention to songcraft as to sonics. The Schoolers also avoid setting their guitars to “overwhelm,” letting the shimmer and shreen support the melodies – sweet things like “Isla” and “Soft Reflections” wouldn’t work if they got lost in the noise. Even the undulating “CPPT” and the motorik influenced “Drone 2” and “The More You Know” explore textures rather than building crescendos. No doubt the balance of power shifts onstage, as would be appropriate, but Film School’s dedication to popcraft and the wide world beyond distortion makes the dreamy We Weren’t Here, which comes in a lovely die-cut cover, something special.
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