The shoegaze bands Nothing and Whirr both had really good years in 2014. The former released the thunderously good LP Guilty of Everything, while the latter made the best album of their career, Sway. Along with a member who plays guitar in both, Nick Bassett, the two groups share an approach to sound that eschews the lighter side of shoegaze for something thick, heavy, and tough, while still managing to deliver melodies that cause the little neck hairs to stand at attention. They celebrated their good fortune in 2014 by releasing a split EP that shows both bands at their most melodic and relaxed. The two Whirr tracks feature lovely vocal harmonies, chiming guitar lines, and, on "Lean," the kind of slowly loping tempo Slowdive would reach at their most excited. "Ease" is a little more on the exciting side, using high-speed drum fills and wrenching guitar stops to build tension. The two Nothing tracks find the band in a slightly grungier space than on its album, with a strong Smashing Pumpkins influence peeking through. It doesn't sound like pure nostalgia, though; the songs are too strong and the guitars too modern metallic to be stuck in the past. "Chloroform" is the stronger of the two, with "July the Fourth" falling back by just a bit due to its lack of mystery. It's maybe a little closer to Alice in Chains than it is to My Bloody Valentine, which is probably something of a deal breaker to most shoegaze fans. The EP is a nice little capper for a tremendous year and presents a strong case that Nothing and Whirr are the best noise-soaked, '90s-worshiping, pedal-hopping guitar bands around.
AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra