Um... hell yes? Of all the things to come out of the chillwave blogosphere of old, 2010's Blooming Summer was the best. Blue Hawaii are the electronic sister band of Braids and together the duo have gone on to make cold, disassociating dance music; on their first record, though, they made distraught, aching tunes the likes of their fleeting genre had never known. Blooming Summer is a short little masterpiece of visceral heartbreak and bubbling synthwork.
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Hopefully we can take this one from out under the radar and into your heart. Blue Hawaii is the canny side project of Braids’ Raphaelle Standell-Preston, who makes icicle-dropped electronica with the help of Alex Kerby. By now they’ve charted two excellent full-lengths, but where those supply disassociated zombie pop, early work ‘Blooming Summer’ stands out as a heart-shattered opus, a gorgeously sad set of tunes killing the chillwave party with romantic tragedy.
In eight short songs, Standell-Preston and Kerby reinvented the landscape of bloggable synth music, taking the idiom of bands like Memory Tapes and Washed Out and twisting it into torch songs. “Blue Gowns” is a devastating tune with an aggressively bubbling synth and lyrics about the torture of break-up: “I see you thrusting into her / and I ask myself, how stupid can you get?”. That sort of plain-spoken devastation cuts through the beach air of their aesthetic, taking the listener out of the carefree miasma their sound has set up.
Blue Hawaii’s sound developed into something nifty and cerebral, but hearing them back then, and this stark, was a real shot in the arm, a turmoil worth engaging in. It's a hidden gem of its genre and you should seek it out.
10/10 Lewis Customer review, 30th May 2018
‘Blooming Summer’ is 23 minutes of synth-pop music that came out in 2010, an internet’s millennia ago when the kind of sun-dappled chillwave that Blue Hawaii delicately unspool here was already starting to sag from the weight of blog expectations, Portlandia intros, and an endless sea of copycats. But even then, it was obvious ‘Blooming Summer’ was special, and the eight years time between its initial release and its first vinyl pressing has done much to enrich the material displayed so succinctly across the clear disc’s two sides. While beautifully produced, all melodic sunbursts and watercolor reverb that feel as light as air, the emotional truths within ’Blooming Summer’ asks more of its audience than typical of the genre it pulled from, Raphaelle “Ra” Standell’s alternately soaring/searing vocals slowly eroding the purple nostalgia of chillwave until the shades of longing are brilliant black and blue. And while that doesn’t seem so radical in a post-James Blake era of scorched-earth R&B, consider the way Ra evades naming the object of her affection in “Lilac,” suggesting in her ethereal way that self-care might be the key to your growth, to see your summer in bloom.
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