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The Drop Nineteens - Hard Light (Wharf Cat)

2 November 2023

With shoegaze undergoing a low-key revival the past decade or so, including the resurrection of several genre icons, it’s no surprise that some of the lesser-known acts have also hit the reunion trail. Lesser-known doesn’t mean not as good, though – anyone who still owns Delaware, the debut album from Boston’s Drop Nineteens, would likely put it in their list of top 10 shoegaze albums of all time. So the news of a third record – only thirty years after the last one – is welcome, especially since it reunites four-fifths of the original lineup. (Drummer Pete Koeplin isn’t an original, but he’s manned the kit since 1993.) There’s nothing particularly twenty-first century about Hard Light – no one’s trying to reinvent the wheel here. Instead, guitarists Greg Ackell, Paula Kelley, and Motohiro Yasue, alongside bassist Steve Zimmerman and Koeplin, ,simply lean into their strengths, laying out sweet pop melodies and slathering them with guitars shimmering, clean, and crunchy. That’s the shoegaze formula, of course, but there’s a reason formulas continue to work: check “Tarantula,” “Another One ,” and “The Price Was High” for some familiar but oh-so-satisfying sonic pleasures. Hard Light doesn’t quite reach the heights of Delaware, but it’s a more than respectable return that makes us hope the reconstituted Drop Nineteens stick around for a while.