Whilst a plethora of artists have attempted to forge records that can stand amongst the titans of post-punk, the vast majority of such efforts have been in vein and forgotten to the ages. It’s a genre synonymous with a certain time period, a certain environment and a certain demeanour, one that certain people are only born with. In a way, it’s almost a gift; it’s easy to pinpoint individuals who try to fraudulently construct a connection of the spiritualism of post-punk. However, one such act that authentically have a connection to the aural spirit of the genre and it’s respective culture are San Francisco's Cellar Doors.
Despite the American West Coast post-punk sound typically being indicated by it’s sun kissed aesthetic, the sound Cellar Doors offers is the result of the global legacy that post-punk and dream-pop have gifted the world. It’s a record that has learned from the scattered masters of the genre, taking inspiration from the scenes that were found worldwide as opposed to just imitating their local forefathers. However, to call the record a sweeping history lesson of the post-punk genre would imply the sound within this record belongs to an age we have passed. Instead, Cellar Doors is like the raw flesh beneath a sunburn caused by the San Francisco summer sun; it’s fresh and ready to reinvigorate.
‘City Girl’ and ‘Silhouette’ immediately showcase the natural aptitude this band possess, with it’s distant, space age motorik immediately conjuring images of the golden age of post-punk. However, through the shimmering visceral haze of these tracks a bright future of the genre is visible, with the sound resonating from these tracks being both simultaneously borderline nostalgic and starkly innovative.It’s remarkable how Cellar Doors have constructed a sound that’s loyal to the ancient pioneers and founders of the genre whilst breathing a sense of cutting edge modernity into it.
Despite hailing from the birthplace of sun kissed psychedelia, every track within this record contains it’s own identity, atmosphere and hue. The amber warmth of the opening transpires into the abstracted and surreal caverns of ‘Prism’, an acid day dream of a track that gives way to a reverberating bad trip. This is all before we’re greeted by the stoned lethargy of ‘Hollow’ and the metropolitan shoegaze and dream pop of ‘Sirens’; tracks that hark back to the rain drenched nights of the legendary Manchester scene. ‘Frost’ even transports us the hypnotic and visceral dreamscapes synonymous with the prime works of Depeche Mode, with it’s technicolour kaleidoscope of sound encasing you feverishly.
Despite all the aesthetical and ambient differences found within this release, the entire record is held togetherby a blanketing fabric of visceral and hypnotic psychedelia. Like a pleasant, subtle inner buzz, the metaphorical distant waves of pacifying kaleidoscopic post-punk and dream pop is never overwhelming or intensely intoxicating. From the buzz of ‘City Girl’ to the closing gentleness of ‘Wild Heart’, this album feels like the perfect drug or daydream, one that shows you the beauty of the past and the joys the future of the genre could hold.
In all, it remains to be seen if a third wave of psychedelic sound will come to pass. But if it does, Cellar Doors will be the ones riding it into the surf. A brilliant record that just demonstrates what possibilities post-punk still offers.
Score: 8.5 / 10
Cellar Doors is released in the UK on February 15th via Spiritual Pajamas Records