Tampa, FL's Isobella (formerly known by the name Akasha) have crafted an engaging eight-song debut with Akasha; the limited release was issued in a joint effort by Clairecords and Spacestation 121. After former drummer Heath left the band, and since they had all recorded these tracks together, they decided to use the old name for the title of this album, which combines the best elements of shoegaze and blissed-out dream pop but gives it a modern twist by intertwining male and female vocals, layering on the sonic filigree and pink noise over analog keyboards and a drum machine (which they affectionately refer to as the "Heathotron"). They sound something akin to Slowdive or the Pale Saints at their finest, and the songs here are as dynamic as anything by those bands. Take the Pale Saints-influenced "Black Hair, Green Eyes," for instance, which builds to a glorious, sublime moment before "Yellow" thunders in. "Garden of Earthly Delights" and the Cure-sounding "Ozreal" shift in pace and undulate in shimmering guitar waves and warm, droning keyboards. The Twin Peaks-influenced "Great Northern" (the title refers to the hotel at the center of the David Lynch-directed TV series) will inevitably also draw comparisons to Julee Cruise's vocal work on the show. The album's magnum opus, however, may be the melodious "The Sun in Her Eyes," which features guitars and keyboards in a washed-out gauzy haze, flickering back and forth. The haunting "Carbon Affair" begins with a near-perfect combination of subtle guitars and keyboards, climaxing dramatically under much heavier guitar and drums. Though poor production unwisely buries the vocals here on occasion, overall, Isobella's debut is an informed atmospheric pop album and a fine first effort.
AllMusic Review by Bryan Thomas