On their full-length debut, Out There Ideas, Portland five-piece Shannon Entropy brings together a relatively fresh blend of sounds. The album’s foundational aesthetic is the gently chiming, effects-laden guitar-pop that seems to sprout perennially from the mossy Pacific Northwest.
Shannon Entropy’s take on that sound is melodic but murky, transmitted largely through the melancholy vocals of David Hickey. His untethered presence floats between instrumental elements and balances the tension they create, while his piano parts and string arrangements add welcome textures in tasteful places throughout Out There Ideas.
Hickey’s hovering style also leaves his bandmates free to explore their more unconventional proclivities. On “I Miss My Monkey,” they engage in start-stop-start patterns that hint at an interest in math-rock. That interest pokes its head above ground on “Womanifesto,” a rhythmic grab bag that sounds like Explosions in the Sky cut up into pieces and spliced back together in double time.
“Janky Leg” is a funky little number powered by the restless beats of drummer Kevin Wilbanks and the rubbery bass lines of Roman Beurmann. “I Can See (The Camping Song)” juxtaposes a noisy breakdown and a Coldplay-ish chorus. “Gold and Glass” and “VVitches” find guitarists Jesse Hamlin and Libby Hamlin-Bravo cranking up the guitar grime a bit, as if to prove they can do more than sparkle in staccato. And the slow-burning “No Disgrace”—with its easy pace and elongated melody—is a mildly psychedelic hymn worthy of some mystic Cascadian forest cathedral.
Out There Ideas calls to mind the now-defunct Seattle band Aveo, who put out a couple of really good records in the early 2000s. Shannon Entropy has more interest in technical skills and fiddling with time signatures than Aveo ever did, but they do share a very natural understanding of how to turn notes and rhythms into delightfully downcast dream-songs.