NYC band The Gradients are a difficult band to categorize. While they certainly fit under the umbrella of “indie rock” (whatever that means these days), they also take some of their cues from genres including post-hardcore and emo as well as new wave and straight up classic rock. As they prepare to release their self-titled debut album, that unwillingness to be pigeonholed doesn’t seem to have changed much, and with their new song “Shelf” they do whatever they can to go in as many directions as possible.
During the brief intro, “Shelf” almost sounds like a Cars song; with its clean, palm-muted guitars, meandering bass line, and the simplistic rock beat, it definitely starts out with a new wave feel. But once Charlie DY’s cigarette-choked vocals kick in, the song quickly becomes something else entirely. Seconds later, as the song hits the blaring chorus, DY sings, “I guess my mind surrendered / I can’t help but remember,” revealing a much more self-aware and complex side of the band. This side of the Gradients eventually manifests itself in the instrumentation through interlocking guitar rhythms and overlapping vocals, which add a whole new layer to the track. From there, the band mixes and matches different pieces of the song, and slowly ratchets up the intensity before bringing everything down and ending with the same new-wave combo they started with.
You can listen to “Shelf” below and look for the Gradient’s upcoming debut when it comes out “sometime at the end of the summer”: