Qlowski Quale Futuro? LP

First, the future was denied. Then a different one was fought for. Then realist capitalism settled among us and absorbed and neutralized any hint of rebellion until it flattened reality and returned us to a path that is, in fact, a dark tunnel to nothingness. Nihil. The London band QLOWSKI wonders what future or futures can be envisaged under the current circumstances. And they do it with an impeccably well-constructed work, full of urgent, edgy, tense songs that use the tools of post-punk and new wave to create little treatises on the things that matter: the everyday vignette that glimpses a potent poetic image, frustration and weariness transmuted into dreams that invade real life, noise as a knife to tear the veil of suffocating reality, creating cracks for desire, possibility and hope to seep through. It is truly beautiful. Referentially, you can detect the early OMD melodic spirit, the cubist punk edge of SWELL MAPS, the majestic simplicity of New Zealand punk, the dark romanticism of after punk. The references are just that, references that serve to orient you in the hanging garden of QLOWSKI, a garden full of pleasures oscillating between melancholy and the golden light of twee, whatever that may mean to you. Two good songs to enter this world are “Larry’s Hair Everywhere,” with that wonderful noise freakout in the middle, and the track that closes the album, a Lynch-esque tour de force, “In a Cab to Work ft Les Miserable.”

Qlowski Ikea Youth / Grinding Halt 7″

A sonically dense, highly danceable sound that wears many a familiar ’80s influence on its sleeve, but manages to be at least a little unpredictable in the process. “Ikea Youth” starts with a bouncy-then-driving guitar, sports a catchy chorus, but ultimately comes off a bit cluttered as the guitar and synth fight for space in the mix. I thought it might just be a lo-fi thing, but the credits say this was recorded at Abbey Road, so I assume that they just like to layer up their sound. Both vocalists have distinct but complementary voices and the synth-driven darkwave finale was pretty cool. Side Two is a CURE cover, and while I’m not really a CURE guy, I appreciate that QLOWSKI takes some sonic liberties by adding chunky guitars, abrasive noise, and discordant piano. I’m curious to see how they develop, but on this outing, I find splitting the difference between gothy post-punk impulses and more accessible pop does justice to neither.

Qlowski Pure as Fear EP

Stylish and busy post-punk from Italy. There’s an opposition in QLOWSKI’s tunes: the keys and melodies are pure dancefloor new wave, but the beat and mood is far darker. I realize this is sorta thee bread & butter post-punk tactic, but it feels extra unnerving in this instance. The best moments recall BLACK SUNDAY, the worst I’ve already forgotten.