Formerly of dream pop band Free Space, Josh Mays has since begun a gauzy exploration of post-rock’s languorous rhythms and enveloping atmosphere under the moniker of Signs Following. He’s not adhering to the genre completely though, as his new work casts its gaze across a handful of aesthetics and disciplines. Stray fragments of smeared pop euphoria and ’90s indie rock (imagine “How It Feels To Be Something On”-era Sunny Day Real Estate) blend with his own unique approach to post-rock’s broad emotionality to create the sound that’s been swirling around in his head as of late.
His songs tend toward experiential narratives and intimate detailing, but he manages to convey universal sentiments without sacrificing the individuality of the music. Guitar strings are strummed, violins ache and drums patter along in the background as they all set the gait for his memorable melodies. With a little help from his fellow musicians, his songs come alive and lope along in a gauzy serenity. The music ebbs and flows parallel to his voice, creating a gorgeous and often moving environment in which his stories can unfold.
On his record, “The Space Between Words,” Mays continues to work at the intersection of these genres but does so without doubling back on his earlier work. These songs move loosely but never discard their momentum, drifting across your senses and leaving ever-shifting impressions. Their woozy pop inclinations build upon indie rock foundations to create something much larger than the sum of its parts. The record moves in unpredictable directions, opting to offer spontaneity and creative abandon rather than conform to the letter of its influences.
“Sea foam” recalls the work of bands in the late ’90s who attempted to mesh the unfiltered emotion of emo with the complexity of post-rock, and it builds to satisfying release which few of those earlier bands were ever able to express. Other tracks like “Washington Architecture” and “The Houses We’ve Lived In” bring to mind the DIY indie rock aesthetic of early ’90s Sub Pop bands while conveying a unique and fascinating glimpse into Mays’ internal musical mechanisms. “The Space Between Words” may clock in under 20 minutes, but it completely envelops you all the same, providing a hint and hope of what the future might hold for Signs Following.
Joshua Pickard covers local and national music, film and other aspects of pop culture. You can contact him on Facebook, Twitter or by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.