Clash (magazine) - "ON DEAD WAVES has a stripped-back, nascent, haunted bluesy quality to it, which makes tracks like `Never Over' -- with a chorus so deceptively simple it will trouble you for days -- both arresting and intriguing by equal measure."
Photographer: Cat Mook.
The Mute-issued debut long-player from the U.K.-based dream pop duo featuring electro-folk rocker Polly Scattergood and Maps mastermind James Chapman, On Dead Waves is a noir-ish, unabashedly cinematic slab of brooding doom pop that's begging for placement in an early-'90s David Lynch or Oliver Stone film. Citing Bob Dylan, Low, and Leonard Cohen as inspirations, the duo's slick, urban-goth emissions are more closely aligned with artists like Mazzy Star, Cocteau Twins, and Lana Del Rey. More classic 4AD than Mute, Scattergood and Chapman cast a constantly intoxicating spell throughout the ten-track set's just-under-40-minute runtime. Reverb-drenched and tailor-made for chain-smoking and pre-dawn drives through garbage-strewn, post-bacchanalia Sunday morning city centers, standout cuts like the spectral opener "Blackbird," the monastic "Alice," and the quietly propulsive "Blue Inside" feel both grounded and otherworldly; weekend sad-jams for vampires wrestling with the existential dread that chaperones their immortality. It's not all Julee Cruise and Lera Lynn vamping it up low-key at their respective watering holes, the former via Twin Peaks Roadhouse and the latter providing the Greek chorus at the sad-sack club in season 2 of True Detective. Scattergood and Chapman are not above letting a little light in, as evidenced by the peppy single "California," and even at their most moribund, they flash enough leg to keep the listener atingle. That said, they most certainly show deference to the moon, and following their nocturnal pursuits proves to be both disquieting and weirdly invigorating. ~ James Christopher Monger