If Ann Arbor-based quartet Pity Sex hasn’t already piqued your interest with their provocative moniker, their brand of loner shoegaze should do the job. It’s not the smothering, knee-deep fuzz or the crushing lo-fi production that makes 'White Hot Moon' unique — they are cues that have been taken from predecessors of the genre, such as My Bloody Valentine — it’s the on-record relationship of Pity Sex front people Brennan Greaves and Britty Drake.
Whether they’re weaving in and out of each other before coalescing into melting harmony on ‘Bonhomie’, or subtly taunting each other on ‘Burden You', the pair possess an undeniable chemistry together. Whether they intended it or not, there’s an ongoing conversation between the two of them that snakes through the entire record; Greaves entertains the yearning, metaphorical side of unrequited love in his sultry drones, while Drake takes a more direct approach to heartbreak, singing lines like “I want you but I don’t want to / I’ll never say I loved you because you know I still do” in her contrasting airy tones.
And it’s Drake that takes the lead on one of the standout tracks ‘Plum’, a devastatingly candid ode to her late mother. It’s a rare tender moment, deviating from the fuzz-and-wallow formula of the album to showcase her poetic lyrics and the clarity of her mesmerisingly breathy voice — unnervingly sweet considering the subject matter. ‘Pin A Star’ is another anomaly in the album, trading the background rumble for lucid guitars and sweet lead lines.
Pity Sex may have taken few risks to make a breakthrough album and they’re hardly re-inventing the wheel, but ‘White Hot Moon’ is a solid effort and a worthy follow-up to debut ‘Feast Of Love’. And most importantly, if they can keep fuelling the spark between Drake and Brennan, there’s a good chance the next album will be fire-starting.
Words: Lisa Henderson
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