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Portland Shoegaze Outfit KALLAI Dive Headlong into the Anguish of Heartbreak in Their Video for “Always/Never”

Emerging from the verdant underground music scene in Portland, Oregon, shoegaze outfit KALLAI debuts its spellbinding new single, “Always/Never,” accompanied by a visually evocative music video. Known for its ethereal blend of post-punk, shoegaze, and doom influences, KALLAI has quickly carved a niche for itself within the vibrant scene, weaving sounds that are both timeless and introspective.

Formed in the summer of 2023, KALLAI brings together members from diverse musical backgrounds, including Trance to the Sun, Luscious Apparatus, and Lost Echoes. With a sound that echoes the reverberating guitars and dreamy vocals reminiscent of bands like Slowdive, Catherine Wheel, and The Cure, Kallai’s music resonates with an emotional depth that is both haunting and profound.

The band’s latest offering, “Always/Never,” explores the complexities of youthful relationships through a blend of soft, whirling distortions and gauzy vocals that glide between lush guitar textures. The track evokes the halcyon days of shoegaze icons signed to Creation Records and 4AD from 1988 to 1991, marrying catchy riffs with an air of dream pop nostalgia.

The music video, released on April 12, 2024, incorporates haunting footage from Thomas Gellert’s film collection “Heart Broken Girl,” which KALLAI licensed and re-edited to enhance the song’s thematic depth. The video captures the emotional turmoil of heartbreak, depicting a heartbroken girl amidst rubble, clutching a rose—a powerful visual metaphor for the song’s exploration of loss and reflection.

Cate Hukle of Kallai elaborates on the song’s thematic underpinnings:

“Always/Never is largely about how those relationships in your early-20s can be more about searching personal validation than about trying to form a real connection with another person. That means it’s really easy to fall back on cultural scripts for how relationships are ‘supposed’ to go instead of treating your partners like actual people. For me, I feel like my former partners and I both had those same insecurities, and we both ended up looking past the other person. Thomas’ footage, with its focus on a single subject, for me captures part of that mirroring, part of the shared sadness and frustration that I think all parties have when they have relationships like that.” –

Watch the video for “Always/Never” below:

As Kallai prepares to release their debut EP later this June, “Always/Never” serves as a compelling preview of what listeners can expect from the group. With its introspective lyricism and the textured interplay of instruments and vocals, the track invites audiences into a world of self-discovery and emotional resonance.

In the meantime, find the single on Bandcamp here.

Follow Kallai:

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