After 20 years of writing and performing together in the dance-pop band Nothing Still, Emilio Hernandez and drummer Patrick Lawrence have a new project out of Los Angeles: the post-punk/shoegaze outfit Occults. Inspired by the sounds they once fell in love with as teenagers, the duo explored new avenues, resulting in their debut EP, Sacred Heart.
Pulling influences from The Smiths, Joy Division, The Cure, and The Church, Occults’ music combines aggressively fast rhythms, guitar melodies, and dreamy bedside vocals by Hernandez.
The album opens with the eerie, fast-paced “Ghost Town”, followed by the emotionally charged Cure meets Sad Lovers and Giants sounding track “Prayers”. “Physical” follows, with a gorgeous guitar refrain weaving the introspective lyrics that explode into a pleading hook. “Little Joy” delves into the realm of Joy Division meets The Mission Gothic-rock style songwriting, while “Neon Hideaway” brightens the sound with an almost hair-metal balladeer approach. The closing titular song continues the trend with a big 80s sound, bringing to mind a long-lost Icehouse song.
Overall, a fantastic debut from Occults.
Sacred Heart is available now on all major streaming services.