Shoegaze is alive and well and living in Jersey City, New Jersey, where it has adopted the name Overlake. On the group's second full-length album, 2017's Fall, Overlake have taken the usual tropes of classic shoegaze -- the big, billowy guitar figures, the murmur-y vocals, the thick undertow of bass, and the languid but crashing rhythms -- and transformed them into something that sounds fresh, engaging, and honestly exciting. With a band like this, good tunes usually make all the difference, and Fall shows that Overlake has them to spare. The songcraft on this album isn't complicated, but the band know how to put together melodies and hooks that are spare yet effective, and they execute them with an energetic cool that's subtly powerful and muscular without crushing the frameworks of their songs. Guitarist and vocalist Tom Barrett may seem like the star of this show, and he certainly takes up the most space in the arrangements with his intelligent use of delay and the whammy bar. But the rhythmic punctuation of drummer Nick D'Amore is excellent, as he uses his toms to add texture and tunefulness while keeping time, and bassist Lysa Opfer is inconspicuous but superb, laying down a foundation that holds her bandmates in place but also keeps the melodies astutely buoyant. Overlake don't sound as if they've reinvented the wheel on this album -- it's not hard to pick out their influences after a spin or two. But at the same time, they're not without imagination and a creative point of view, and on Fall they take the generic boundaries of shoegaze and run with them, ending up with something strong, smart, and occasionally quite beautiful for their troubles. Fall is big music with an intimate heart, and Overlake will give you the contemplative ride you've been looking for with this splendid album.
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AllMusic Review by Mark Deming