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Standout Track: “Pegasus,” an ethereal, reverb-drenched dream-pop single about the romance of misery and the misery of romance. There’s a hint of ’80s goth in the song’s shimmering guitar tones and brooding keyboards, but the vocal melodies owe more to Annie Lennox than Robert Smith. “Living in the shadow of love, I’ve given all that I can, it’s not enough,” sing Lindsay Pitts and bandmate Clifford Usher. Black eyeliner not included.
Musical Motivation: Social media. Having spent six years releasing gentle, psych-tinged indie folk under the name Birdlips, Pitts and Usher decided that they were ready to make a change. Around that time, Usher, 28, discovered Tumblr. “I got really into Tumblr; not having one, but surfing them and collecting images,” he says. The duo used those pictures—usually black-and-white photographs that had a “timeless feel”—as inspiration for Gems’ icy new aesthetic.
Louder than Love: Near the end of its run as Birdlips, the duo had the opportunity to play some larger venues, like the 9:30 Club, that were equipped with powerful PA systems. The experience informed Gems’ decision to swap out their ukuleles for synths and drum machines. “We just realized there were incredible capabilities that we weren’t using,” says Usher. The problem now is that most clubs could handle a ukelele, but no DIY space is equipped for perfect bass response. “People don’t hear a band and think, ‘That band was great, but the sound system was terrible,’” says Usher. “They just think, ‘That band was terrible.’”
Listen to “Pegasus” after the jump.