Insomniac bliss found on Bodywash’s new shoegaze album ‘Comforter’

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Hailing from Montreal, the alternative rock band Bodywash released its first full-length album Comforter on Friday. In a rendezvous of hazy synthesizers, impactful guitar riffs and drowning vocals, the record skillfully blends a bedtime playlist into the waves of a rock album.     

Bodywash, the musical project composed of a group of friends at McGill University, got its start back in 2014. The band then released its first EP in 2016, a four-song sampling of shoegaze and dream pop sounds. After spending the last two years recording Comforter, Bodywash has arrived with what its band members call “the perfect insomniac’s record” — and they’re pretty accurate.

The new record is vastly different than the original EP. Although the two works share many similarities, such as the tone of the guitars and the pace of the songs, the vocals sound almost like a completely different band.

The first track “Reverie” is a dreamlike sprinkling of riffs against a driving kick of the drums. The futuristic vocal effects put a sci-fi spin on the song, leading listeners into a dizzy trip that’s best played through headphones. The lyrics are not clearly distinguishable with all of the instrumental activity, but the words aren’t the main focus of the piece — the full atmosphere created by the song is what’s most deserving of a highlight.  

Shoegaze influences really kick off in “Twins.” The vintage synth brings a darkness to the sound, and the reverb of the vocals draws the words into somewhat of a whisper. This combination has a calming effect, but the jarring twang of the guitar that follows quickly breaks the tranquility — leading into a more dynamic midsong shift. And the versatility of the song continues with a fake ending that revives the energy at the core of the song.  

“With Heat” takes a much slower approach, but reinforces the nighttime feel that carries through the entirety of the album. This particular song encapsulates the vibe of the insomniac sound the band promised to deliver: a lullaby of a voice sings softly, a static in the background acts as white noise as if the listener is trying to fall asleep with a crowded mind. 

Even among this nebulous tribute to the insomniac, more accessible indie sounds shine on songs like “Sunspots,” which features brighter tones and cleaner vocal sections. The lyrics, “When everything is so serene, it’s hard to see/ We miss the cracks that open up beneath our feet,” are undeniably psychedelic in nature, and the connections with nature only play up the tranquility of the record’s sound.

“Eye to Eye” is one of the weaker songs on the album, but not because it’s a bad song — it just doesn’t strongly add something new to the table. The mumbled lyrics may get a little old by this point in the record, but the instrumentals and overall production quality remain strong throughout the whole project. This song flows seamlessly into “Reprise,” a track just under two minutes long that reins back in on the instrumental focus.

The main theme of the album focuses on warmth, thus the title Comforter aptly fits into the picture of security and sonic glow. “Paradisiac” is one of the only purely instrumental songs on the album, but it’s as if the sun radiates out of every part of the tune. Comforter is, as intended, warm. Calling itself a “perfect insomniac’s record” may be ambitious when considering the contrast between sunny warmth and a hazy night, but the goal seems to be bringing that same sense of daytime comfort to one’s bedtime routine. 

And that’s exactly how Comforter wraps up — with a mesmerizingly ethereal haze, just perfect to fall asleep to.

Skylar De Paul covers music. Contact her at [email protected]. Tweet her at @skylardepaul.