Brooklyn, NY outfit Groupie has been active for a few years now, and following a 2017 demo and 2018's Validated EP, Ephemeral is their debut 10-song full-length; offering up 40 minutes of music said to be inspired by a combination of '70s and '80s punk, post-punk, and new wave with certain aspects of '90s alt. rock. This is another one of those instances where I dig the vibe, but assume the musicians involved are wading in pools that I'm just not terribly familiar with, 'cause I can't say that any obvious points of reference are springing to mind. I don't want my limited awareness to detract from Groupie's uniqueness, however, as I suspect the other half of this equation is that the band has rightfully evolved their approach to the point where they're doing their own thing, naturally avoiding sounding too similar to any singular influential ingredient.
The dual vocals, for example, are a definite point of distinction—one voice a half-spoken form of singing that occasionally veers toward a shout; the other sung with an excellently strained rasp. Musically, there's an overall somber, monotone undercurrent that does nod to post-punk, as well as the occasional indie/grunge elements, but everything is sort of delivered with this low-key sensibility that really changes up the end result. For some strange reason a few of the simple, sustained strums even bring to mind Spaghetti Western soundtracks or something!?
In keeping with the subdued nature of the writing/performances, the no-frills production style boasts just the right amount of rugged warmth, plus a balanced mix with plenty of breathing room.
The album is limited to 220 copies on "fruit punch" colored vinyl (or 150 tapes), and it's another great-looking Handstand release: simple yet beautiful outer sleeve; a full-color printed dust jacket that includes lyrics, photos, etc.; and a custom designed download card—all featuring a cohesive color scheme and aesthetic.
I picked up a copy of the Validated EP shortly after Ephemeral crossed my path, and I must say that—while not a drastic shift—there's something alluring about the LP's darker and more atmospheric manner. If Groupie's songwriting continues to twist and turn in that direction, the results should be quite interesting...