Bodywash on Getting Darker and More Cohesive (4/18 at The Fire)

Montreal shoegaze duo Bodywash are preparing for the release of their sophomore album, I Held the Shape While I Could, which drops April 14th on Light Organ Records.  The...

Montreal shoegaze duo Bodywash are preparing for the release of their sophomore album, I Held the Shape While I Could, which drops April 14th on Light Organ Records.  The album is the follow-up to 2019’s Comforter.  However, during a recent phone chat with Rosie Long Decter and Chris Steward, they tell me that the band has gone through some changes since their debut full-length.

“When we started, we were still a four-piece.  There were four creative members of that band.  I Held the Shape While I Could is much more the two of us working together, writing together, so it’s much more cohesive,” says Long Decter of the new album, before going on to say that the group’s sound has expanded as well: “I think we tried out a broader range of sounds and styles on this record.  We got a little more experimental in some places and some places it’s straight up synthpop.”  “Generally, the palette’s shifted toward something darker and bleaker,” Steward adds.

Bodywash have already released two singles off of I Held the Shape While I Could, “Massif Central,” which Northern Transmissions called, “darker, more experimental, and at the same time more invigorating than the soothing dream pop found on their first record,” and, most recently, “No Repair,” which Gorilla vs. Bear characterized as, “an enveloping, gorgeously melancholy ballad.”

Accompanying the release of I Held the Shape While I Could is a 50-copy limited edition 30-page booklet, entitled Take Form, designed by Yoon Rachel Nam (Desert Bloom, Cedric Noel), which includes the complete album lyrics, in addition to poems, a short story, and guitar tabs from the duo, along with art by Kristina Pederson.  When I ask about the motivation behind Take Form, Long Decter — who also does, “music writing, cultural criticism, and sometimes creative writing” – tells me, “We had a desire to have something physically tactile to accompany the album for people who don’t have record players, or tape players, or CD players.”

Long Decter and Steward have been on the road with Bodywash since mid-March, when they kicked off this batch of dates at SXSW at The Nothing Song Official Showcase, which Steward tells me was not only a great show, but a refreshing change of pace, compared to the band’s usual trips to the Austin festival: “SX was definitely a highlight.  We didn’t do a run like we normally do, just one showcase at Hotel Vegas.”  Long Decter goes on to say, “The great part about touring is every night is a wildly different experience,” before telling me that she’s quite excited for the band’s upcoming stop at The Fire on Tuesday, April 18th, alongside Her New Knife and Power Over Ethernet: “I think it’s gonna be a good hang.  I’m excited to meet the other bands and get a sense of the Philly scene and the Philly vibe!”

Apparently, those who attend the April 18th gig can expected a good array of songs from both of Bodywash’s full-lengths.  “We’ve been practicing more and more songs each week, so by the time we get to Philly, it should be pretty good,” Steward tells me, laughing.  Although Long Decter does echo the recent sentiments of our friends in Soft Blue Shimmer, stating that it’s not always easy for up-and-coming shoegaze acts to accurately convey their sounds in so many of the rooms they regularly play: “I would say that small stages are not very conducive to it.  When you’re doing the kind of shoegaze thing, your sound gets drowned out in these tiny rooms.”

*Register for Bodywash’s 4/18 show at The Fire here.  (Admission is $12 at the door.)

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.