New music

Vallens Confront Objectification in the Instagram Age on “Occurred”

The dark melodic Toronto band wield even more cinematic power on their upcoming EP, ‘Dimmed In My Display.’

Jill Krajewski

There’s such an unnerving cinematic quality to Vallens. Dark yet melodic, lingering rock. A name borrowed from David Lynch’s Blue Velvet. Music videos with knife-sharp storytelling. The movie that plays out across their 2016 debut album Consent has grown into an all-too accurate mirror of our present reality, this #MeToo era defined by women fighting to regain control over their bodies and agency. Holy shit does the music industry need an overhaul here.

So too have Vallens grown as a band. A shift in songwriting from singer and guitarist Robyn Phillips to the full group—currently featuring Marta Cikojevic of TOPS, Colin J. Morgan of Cellphone, and Devon Henderson—has deepened their aural power. Vallens’ upcoming EP Dimmed In My Display, out July 6 on Hand Drawn Dracula, promises to live up to the theatre of their live shows where piano has taken on a greater narrative, emotional role. You can hear it on Vallens’ latest song, “Occurred,” the guitar echo blooming into a dark rose with Phillips’ ethereal vocals against a formidable bass. A poignant yet tragic piano surfaces and recedes into unforgiving shredding lost and found over and over. Phillips shared her inspiration for “Occurred” in a statement:

"The EP deals with the duality of being highlighted and obscured at the same time. Almost the modern incarnation of the male gaze, with the grasp of our technological, over-saturated, modernity making it more confusing for us. This particular song is this effect but spilling over on to a relationship, and what this tormenting feeling all women/female identifying feel can do to someone, when it is projected or extended on you from a partner. I think it is very possible to have healthy internet hygiene, but I think it is currently easier to get lost in it.”

Jill Krajewski is on Twitter.