Album: Efficax – Destruction

Destruction, the newest full-length album from Efficax, a home-recording pop experimenter based in Los Angeles, comes out on April 23rd (on Bandcamp and streaming providers). It’s a sometimes unsettling mixture of influences, offering moments of acoustic bedroom pop melody, atonal meanders, skittering electronic beats, hazy shoegaze, and highly processed vocals sometimes all in the same song. The album shows a level of debt to recent trailblazers at the experimental pop end of current DIY but, through these songs, Efficax demonstrates an original voice despite those shared stylistic frames, providing an immersive experience through the playful intricacies of each song’s production- and there is much detail to be found here.

The simple piano patterns that introduce the listener to one of the leading singles,
Fade, is propelled with a sudden urgency into rhythmic hyperpop all skittering and pulsing euphoria and twinkling keys but one tied to an emotive centre through those heavily manipulated vocals whose lyrics are a window to the thematic links within the album itself.

“…I’m fading away
don’t know what the fuck i want
i don’t even know what’s wrong…”

Those song’s quieter moments, when the beat is paused and the subtle distortions that lurk behind the melody gain prominence, are breathtaking. There’s a darkness at the heart of a lot of these recordings. They feel like a surreal cry for help. A labour of love about the darkness of living

Hunger gives us a surprising burst of shoegazy, lo-fi indie, Melt plays with softly delivered bedroom pop (with some surprising shifts and a haunting backward vibrato instrumental refrain running through it). Shooter almost sounds like early Sparklehorse in its lo-fi crackle and rust-stained vocal creaks, offering another stylistic direction for eager ears to ponder over. These moments feel very visual, capturing fleeting, flickering images in the listener’s mind. None of the songs outstay their welcome and though not every melody hits immediately, each one offers something rewarding that pays repeated listens.

User is one of Efficax’s most unadorned songs on the album, less detailed in those surprising production textures (and minus those helium-high, hyperpop vocals) but arresting nevertheless, the words direct and the melody lending delicacy to their emotive weight. The repeated, “I’m fucking up everything,” refrain is both achingly beautiful and achingly sad too.

Destruction is an intricate and varied record that plays with the surface gloss of polished pop whilst giving light to something darker within. There are many voices coalescing as one, many versions of the self presented. It feels old and new simultaneously, like a future haunted by a half-remembered past, but one now distorted and alien. It’s also very beautiful.

Written by M. A. Welsh (Misophone)