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Degrees might still be a relatively fresh discovery for me, but their music already reveals a captivating paradox that lies at its core. Degrees are more about posing questions than providing answers, and this enigma is precisely what gives their work its allure. If your music isn’t working this hard, not just in terms of the compositions you create but also in terms of the emotional responses it elicits from the audience, then perhaps it’s taking up too much space.
“Shake Shake Shake Shake” presents a cluster of contradictions, prompting questions such as – how can a band craft a wall of sound that feels simultaneously expansive and opaque? How does it infuse such propulsive energy into a song that sounds so sleek and finely textured? How can Degrees create what is essentially an alternative pop song that resonates like a 21st-century Mozart opting for synths over symphonies? How can it suggest a variety of genres yet neatly evade categorization within any one of them?
Pt V. covers considerable ground. From the ethereal finesse of “Floods”, a fusing of achingly beautiful synth layers with rhythmic acoustic elements and their trademark lush harmonies, to the grand, anthemic electro-rock of “A Little Too Well”. In between, you’ll find everything from the gentle, swaying pop of “Cloudy Night Like Tonight” and the unabashedly dance-driven “Into The Sea”. Degrees seem to effortlessly navigate everything from stadium-ready rock to dancefloor anthems.
This, their long awaited fifth album, hence the name, emerges as a compilation of hard-edged sounds and industrial grooves melding seamlessly with musical sweeps, dance rhythms, and exquisite synths. Rather than utilizing their more abrasive edges for a punkish impact, Degrees weaves them into polished and elegant patterns that prioritize poise over power, ambiance over attitude, and soundscapes over swagger.
And if I may pose just one more query, why on earth aren’t more artists delving into music as audacious, as windswept, and as intriguing as this?
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