City of Satellites: The Momentary Mask
City of Satellites

Instead of releasing a full-length album every year or so, City of Satellites is planning to distribute its music in a slightly different way by issuing an EP of new tunes every three or four months. The Momentary Mask, the dreampop trio's first release since 2009's Machine Is My Animal, sees the geographically dispersed outfit—Jarrod Manuel (vocals, guitars, synthesizers), Thomas Diakomichalis (drums, synthesizers), and Drew Sullivan (guitars, synthesizers), who are respectively based in Australia (Adelaide) and the US (New York City and Spokane)—tackling four shoegaze-styled tracks in a concise seventeen-minute set.

Heavy on pop melodies, the title track opens the EP with a bit of an androgynous quality in Manuel's vocal delivery, though the effect isn't displeasing. The band's primary strength is in the instrumental department, however, with City of Satellites' attack receiving a particularly strong boost from Diakomichalis's kinetic drumming and the multi-guitar front-line. With the intensity level dialed down ever-so-slightly (in the verses, at least), the group's dreampop side comes to the fore in “Plastic Love Progression” (as well as its penchant from electronic programming and effects), while the radio-ready “Belvedere” infuses its shoegaze pop with a funkier rhythm attack. Occupying the gentler end of the trio's spectrum, “You'll Feel Better Tomorrow” ends the EP on a reflective note with a slow tempo and restrained backing allowing the focus to center on Manuel's singing.

Admittedly, the group isn't blazing new trails here—City of Satellites is clearly part of a tradition associated with groups like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive—but there's no denying the polished sheen and melodicism of the EP's music and the sophisticated production design and conviction with which it's presented.

April 2013