If you cue up Antarctica, the latest record from Connecticut- based waveform*, you’ll find dream-pop, shoegaze, emo, bedroom-pop, even country. As you can maybe guess from that sentence, it can be hard to pin down a “sound” to describe waveform*. There definitely is a mood here, though: the sun setting through the window of a lonely bedroom, a long drive alone, a casual jam with stoned friends in a basement. RIYL nostalgia, ennui, great guitar work, and “Everything’s Ruined” by Fountains of Wayne, basically.
Waveform* aren’t unknown around these parts of Brooklyn, but I personally heard of them for the first time when I spotted a flyer on my street. The night was still and cold, I was probably a bit too drunk; these are perfect vibes for Antarctica. Jarett Denner and Dan Poppa are the duo behind the band (it’s a short list of personnel: Denner, Poppa, bass on “Antarctica” and “In My Drink” by Sarah Widmann and a co-writing credit to B. Reid Dyer on “Freak Me Out) and they’ve managed to concoct an album that’s both catchy and hard to pin down.
Antarctica opens languidly with the single “Lonely,” a dreamy song with a gorgeous country-tinged guitar solo that sets the tone for the rest of the songs. Next up is “Firework,” a harder-edged grungy track with a crescendo that hits, recedes, and then returns (and also features a great solo.) These first two standouts were also the first two singles, and they were well chosen.
Other highlights on the album include “Ocean” which is airy and cold with a syncopated drumbeat, and “Ballroom,” a surreal whirling 6/8 tune. “In My Drink” is a lazy waltz with one of the prettiest slow guitar solos I’ve heard in a while layered over acoustic strumming and lyrics that sound personal but puzzling: “in the morning we laughed and pretended / that we could love each other again / don’t let yourself confuse wind with the rain / my promise to you.”
In fact, the lyrics in many of these songs are poetic but difficult to tease meaning from, like in “Firework” (“all the bees in the world give a shit / and the flowers always take a hit / for the world you don’t let go / could you benefit a crow”). There are more universal feelings here as well, though, like on “Lonely” (“come home early in the morning / kiss me when you go / i get happy when you call me / on the telephone”).
Overall this record has a lot in common with waveform*’s previous albums, although Antarctica is a bit more expansive, with the band well settled into their sound, however you choose to describe it. With four albums and a split since 2017, waveform* show no signs of slowing down, and their creativity seems to know no bounds.