Torrey, “Torrey”
By Shy Thompson · March 08, 2024 Merch for this release:
Vinyl LP, Compact Disc (CD)

For Torrey, the power is in the details. The San Francisco-based group—originally just siblings Ryann and Kelly Gonsalves, now expanded to a five-piece band—describe their sound as “textural pop,” and it’s an apt summary of their additive process. Debut album Something Happy was a straightforward run of jangly pop songs, and they’ve kept the songwriting relatively simple on their self-titled follow-up, building out from that candied center, intensifying their joyful tunes with a decadent layer of granular feedback. There’s additional color to the essential essence that changes how the music moves: it’s more alive, more expansive, more complete.

Like many of the bands in whose footsteps they follow on Slumberland Records (and the labels that inspired them, like K), Torrey uses fuzzed-out effects to provide a topographical dimension of peaks and valleys to coast through. However, they use it a bit differently than their predecessors. Unlike The Pains of Being Pure at Heart or Black Tambourine, who pushed the noise front and center and forced you step inside the hazy mist to find the groove, Torrey blankets their sound with a thin sheet, leaving the contours exposed. You’re invited to reach out and feel the shapes underneath. A sweet ballad like “Rain” isn’t a drastic departure from previous efforts, but the distorted guitar traces a soft halo in the air. There’s a radiant aura, like flecks of sunlight collected through a slightly open window.

On “Bounce,” they go even bigger. Shimmering synth tones harmonize with Ryann’s effervescent vocals, making the chorus feel large and looming. Again, there’s a swelling buzz underpinning the track, but they’re keeping the volume in check. Rather than overwhelm with a wall of sound, they’re bathing you in a warm glow. It’s not only guitar that can give the music extra texture, either. Ryann’s singing is cloaked in a ghostly echo on “July (And I’m)” as synthesizer rips through like a howling wind, painting a more placid scene. They’re taking advantage of their expanded palette to tap into a wider depth of emotion.

After showing restraint, the moment the band finally let loose feels well-earned. They pick up momentum on the penultimate track “Really AM” before erupting into a fuzzed-out explosion, fully channeling the noise pop greats that influenced them as they slam on the pedals. It’s a high intensity highlight, but saving it for the end makes a statement: Torrey can play big and loud if they really want, but they’re confident in their more disciplined approach.

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