To anyone with an eye or ear on the best new tunes bubbling up, there’s an inescapable presence of incoming innovation in the realm of shoegaze, dream pop, or really anything else served with a healthy dose of reverb. This resurgence manifests itself in Wray: three Birmingham, Alabama dudes coming through to deliver a sound straight out of 1980’s England with a distinctively modern flow and nonchalance. Hypatia, the band’s sophomore release on Communicating Vessels, displays nothing but forward momentum since their self-titled 2014 release. David Brown’s sturdy bass and Blake Wimberly’s formidable drums hold it down for soaring vocals and David Swatzell’s guitar, which ranges from intoxicatingly ambient to drivingly crunchy, present what an exemplar of shoegaze really should: overwhelming sound with underlying delicacy.
Named for the female scientist and philosopher from Egypt, Hypatia is an inundation of atmosphere and vibration. The textural and sonic fluidity of the album, in that each track flows organically and almost soothingly into the next, leaves me inkling to listen start-to-finish on vinyl more so than any other medium. Nevertheless, a digital listen is still satisfying and demonstrative that Wray has honed the craft of keeping freshness amidst recurrence. Single “May 23” is one of the strongest points on the album, weaving Wimberly’s unique rhythms with ethereal post-punk derivatives as a track that truly possesses its own infectious pulse. “Mounts Minding” brings the album to a massive, sweeping close with drowned out lyrics becoming gradually swept up in building guitars, as if all the sounds we’d heard on the previous tracks were cumulating together one last time to say goodbye.
Hypatia overall drips with palpable coolness and familiarity; listening through feels as natural as each strum and beat. Although it seems these guys aren’t leaving the Deep South quite yet, it seems safe to imagine that Wray’s ability to retain both composure and emotion would translate in the flesh. For what it’s worth, as a guitarist myself, I can’t help but find myself impressed by the trio’s display of tightness and clarity; in the cascade of fuzz and reverb, it can be easy for a shoegazer to get lost. For Wray, however, the instruments compliment each other with coherence and skill; this, and one listen to Hypatia, are proof enough of a well-oiled machine that’s clearly equipped to deliver, and only getting started.