Chances of the much-adored shoegaze rockers of My Bloody Valentine reuniting are slim to none, so the five Norwegians in Serena Maneesh are a fine replacement. Their self-titled debut is a beautiful though cryptic experiment in murky drone-rock. Like Hades' duplicitous grip coaxing you into his underworld, the album opens with some mesmerizing and surprisingly pop-friendly tunes. The short "Un-Deux" swirls with heavily layered guitars, orchestral flourishes, and frontman Emil Nikolaisen's seductive promise: "Anything you want/Anything you could dream of/All my love talk jewelry/Desperated company." It's the prettiest tune here. From there the record takes a more ominous turn, with expansive narcotic reveries, singer Lina Holström's distant coos, even a song called "Her Name Is Suicide." The lyrics don't always make sense ("Numb me shadowed times of solitude," for instance), but the allure of shoegaze rock is its hazy production values, where vocals should be interpreted more as instruments instead of vehicles for poetry. Even for casual noise-core fans, this is a captivating record and you have nothing to lose by throwing away the key.
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