The number of shoegaze revival bands operating in 2015 dwarfs the number of bands active during the sound's '90s heyday. One of the many, many revivalists, Swedish quintet Westkust do their best to distance themselves from the droning and hypnotic herd on their debut album, Last Forever. Yes, they have overloaded guitars and shop at the same pedal store where Kevin Shields once shopped. Yes, they are dreamy and hypnotic and atmospheric on the sleepy songs, while being super-loud and dramatic on the songs that drive all over the listeners. They check off all the requisite boxes that everyone else does so faithfully, it's true. But Westkust manage to pull ahead of the competition in a couple of important ways. Firstly, they utilize the time-honored (because it almost always works) male-female vocal approach to perfection. Whether duetting wistfully or trading off lines in almost conversational tones, Julia Bjernelind's earthy tones and Gustav Andersson's boyish croon blend together in all the right ways. Bjernelind's solo track "Jonna" shows she can carry the vocal load all by herself just fine, too. Secondly, while the guitars-bass-drums whip up a roiling cauldron of sound that can be soothing or lacerating, the lead guitar lines over the top are always wonderfully melodic and bright, giving the sound a nice light topping that's as sweet as sugar. Thirdly, they flat-out wrote a batch of really good songs that are dramatic, emotionally satisfying, and stand up to repeated listens. There are no bum tracks, no songs that sound borrowed from the original wave, and in "Swirl" they have one that would fit in between Ride and Moose on a playlist and nobody would bat an eye. The rest of Last Forever is almost that strong and as a debut it's pretty remarkable. Definitely good enough that anyone who has ever had a fondness for shoegaze or a predilection for dream pop needs to check it out right away.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra