Review: cat in the case. - "SUMMER"

cat in the case. - SUMMER
(2017 Self-Released)

Winter is to Christmas as summer is to shoegaze: the essence of the season refined into a surge of pure, youthful idealism. While Christmas, situated at the year's end, signifies a period of nostalgic reflection for most, shoegaze snaps forward as if the winter holiday season were a stretched-back rubber band. It's a time for taking road trips, baking beneath UV rays, and grilling massive quantities of protein -- a time to expend energy with reckless abandon. The debut EP by Taiwanese quintet cat in the case, appropriately titled SUMMER, portrays the annual rubber band at the peak of its sailing arc: the dregs of July. 

The band's appreciation for dream pop and the dog days is so sincere, it borders on the surreal, taking the form of ice-pop trees sprouting from gradient beaches and carbonated chord progressions that bubble on the ocean's surface, clinging to gummy inner tubes. "Hey Summer," sings cat in the case's uncredited vocalist on the record's title track, as if to gently tap nature on its shoulder. "Your teeth are shining. And guess what I say? I love you." Gritty thrusts of lead guitar are exclamation points at the end of this beach-pop adoration. The tune resembles a Seapony cut mixed and mastered by Slowdive -- a crust of delicate twinkle that hides a trench of reverb beneath. 

Sandwiched in the middle of the 3-track EP is "Bog Down", a dance with dissonance that pairs a rather menacing verse with a yelp-y chorus that climbs up its rope of tremelo-picked melody. Closer "Something New" slows SUMMER's tempo, looking to the mid-00s output of Airiel for its sonic cues. The track's guitars hover like humidity -- echoing vocals drip sweat on their surface. The song is a swirling drill bit, boring a hole into the summer sky. In its place, cat in the case hang their undiluted sense of wonder, throbbing like a red, polygonal sun.