It’s not surprising that this song has been buried in obscurity, lost in the whole internet blogosphere, or hype machine or whatever you wanna call it. The dream pop duo of Memoryhouse established their identity mainly off of their acclaimed EP, The Years. From what I can gather, Radium Girls is a rare single of myspace level obscurity that floated around the internet sometime in 2009, shortly before The Years started making waves during the “chillwave summer” of 2010. Once such EP hit and blogs began raving, it seems Radium Girls vanished as nothing more than an early demo. A thorough google search even today shows that Radium Girls has barely registered as a blip on anyone’s musical radar, which is surprising considering how powerful the blogosphere works nowadays.
For someone like me who has fallen in love and followed these guys for such a long time, this comes as only half a surprise. The real surprise comes from the song’s sound, but I’ll get to that later. If one pays attention enough to their periodically updated Tumblr, one knows the Memoryhouse has developed this niche out of the “experimental” phase before releasing their debut full length LP this year, The Slideshow Effect. It always seemed like they were never going to release anything besides segmented ambient tracks (posted quite often on their tumblr courtesy of Evan Abeele), random guitar swells and a small group of singles. They kept an image of mysticism, as Evan would chug out these ambient snippets and Denise would churn out milky, dreamy film pictures in periodic doses. They’re certainly no Best Coast, a band that spent it’s pre-LP days churning out more EPs than one can count on their hands (don’t quote me on that), but the concept is similar. In my eyes, they’ll always be that stereotypical bedroom blog-level band who spent the majority of it’s lifespan in experimentation, and that’s why the radically different sounding demo of Radium Girls didn’t shock me too much.
It’s hard to listen to Radium Girls and not be astonished from the sound shift. Yeah it’s dreamy, because you know, they’re a dream pop band. But this track is by far their most jamming of anything they’ve ever produced so far (you can argue The Kids Were Wrong comes close). It’s the only occasion that Memoryhouse has driven a song via a fuzzy, dare I say, rocking drum machine beat, which already surprising in itself when you consider how simplistic and tame Memoryhouse usually is percussion-wise. It’s also surprisingly shoegazey. After the band came out with a My Bloody Valentine cover, you can’t help but at least think of them as you listen to this track even if it technically sounds nothing like them. While the instrumentation is vastly different from anything Memoryhouse has come out with following this track, Denise’s vocal style hasn’t changed one bit, so many will feel right at home with Radium Girls.
Also, that outro.