Qlowski Ikea Youth / Grinding Halt 7”

A sonically dense, highly danceable sound that wears many a familiar ’80s influence on its sleeve, but manages to be at least a little unpredictable in the process. “Ikea Youth” starts with a bouncy-then-driving guitar, sports a catchy chorus, but ultimately comes off a bit cluttered as the guitar and synth fight for space in the mix. I thought it might just be a lo-fi thing, but the credits say this was recorded at Abbey Road, so I assume that they just like to layer up their sound. Both vocalists have distinct but complementary voices and the synth-driven darkwave finale was pretty cool. Side Two is a CURE cover, and while I’m not really a CURE guy, I appreciate that QLOWSKI takes some sonic liberties by adding chunky guitars, abrasive noise, and discordant piano. I’m curious to see how they develop, but on this outing, I find splitting the difference between gothy post-punk impulses and more accessible pop does justice to neither.

Qlowski Pure as Fear EP

Stylish and busy post-punk from Italy. There’s an opposition in QLOWSKI’s tunes: the keys and melodies are pure dancefloor new wave, but the beat and mood is far darker. I realize this is sorta thee bread & butter post-punk tactic, but it feels extra unnerving in this instance. The best moments recall BLACK SUNDAY, the worst I’ve already forgotten.