Defense, 'Defense' | Album Review | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Defense, 'Defense'


Defense, Defense
  • Defense, Defense

(Self-released, digital)

How long does it take for a musical trend to circle back around? Twenty years or more? Much of current indie rock sounds like it was channeled directly from the mid-'90s. And chillwave, the darling micro-genre that briefly dominated the indie-tronic world in the late 2000s and early 2010s, recalled some of the darkest, dreamiest stuff the '80s had to offer.

So is Vermont's Miles Foy, who makes hypnotic, synth-forward music under the moniker Defense, jumping the gun by only waiting a decade to revive chillwave? On first listen, perhaps yes. But subsequent trips through his slight, self-titled EP make it clear he has more in mind than a simple rehash.

That's one of the best and also most frustrating things about Defense. Foy, who also collaborates with locals Nodrums and Lean Tee, has a lot of ambition and seemingly knows exactly what he wants to do. But his tracks feel clipped, meeting their ends just as their elements start to gel. In some ways, the EP sounds as if he's cycling through a series of ideas more than presenting a fully polished album.

In an email, Foy writes that he was influenced by the textured splendor of synth icons past — artists such as Brian Eno, Broadcast and Hiroshi Yoshimura. Foy creates a sense of physical movement in his scant tunes exceedingly well. At times, electronic noises flit about in a spine-tickling scurry, and at others they froth and foam like thick soup bubbling out of a pot. He sculpts his sounds effectively, blending rippling waves with industrial clangor. If these concepts coalesced a bit more with his overall structures and songwriting, they might land with more power.

Opener "Never Me" is the closest Foy comes to retreading the territory of chillwave alums like Blackbird Blackbird and Small Black. It's also Defense's strongest pop song — though it's more like anti-pop. Its hammered bass line and clattering drums should get heads bobbing, but Foy's indifferent delivery of phrases like "I'm hiding everywhere / Between my words / And I still get found out" puts a deliberate damper on things.

"Fruit" showcases a patchwork of slinky beats and gauzy drones. A sonic void at the center puts an even finer point on these elements as they nearly recede into oblivion.

Final tracks "Wide Motions" and "In Folding Up" are aptly named. The former spreads out in billowing plumes as searing schisms erupt, while the latter quietly contracts, morphing through various forms before evaporating.

Foy's first solo outing implies future success for the singer-songwriter/producer. His instincts about sound processing are strong. He just needs to let his ideas mature and ripen a tick longer before harvest.

Stream Defense on Spotify.