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Undersmile: Anhedonia

Unsettling sludge from Oxford’s darkest corners

Anhedonia is defined as the inability to feel pleasure in normally pleasurable things, a symptom of depression and other mental illnesses, and Undersmile take that definition by the horns and drag it ever further towards the depths and darkness.

That’s not to say that Anhedonia is not an enjoyable record, but rather one that buries its treasures far below the surface, allowing small moments of beauty to peek out from under the curtain of melancholy and inviting introspection.

Undersmile have ramped up the claustrophobic nuances of debut Narwhal to another level, and Anhedonia travels dense paths of sound to a place of desolation. Labyrinths opens on slow, deliberate beats and guitar strikes while the vocals of Hel Sterne and Taz Corona-Brown twist around each other, complementing the different tones and ranges of each voice and giving this first track a gorgeously mournful aura that continues well into the album and far into Aeris, which pulls anguish through its veiled, fuzzed-out chords and incorporates simple, yet beautiful cello movements to create a track of affecting doom. This is a record that lives in the shadowy, murky abyss and it will haunt the pitch-black recesses of the mind.