Shoegaze is thriving. Scenes in eastern cities like Pittsburgh, New York City, and especially Philadelphia are having surges of creativity and success, yet the sound is relatively untouched in Buffalo.

Garden Closet is often in a scene of their own in the 716. The three-piece leans hard into the heavy and dark side of shoegaze, drawing on influences from both classic 90’s bands and the genre’s contemporary forerunners.

The lead singer, Kay Stuitje, said:

“When I started this project I was really inspired by a movement in shoegaze that’s highly localized in Philadelphia… bands like They Are Gutting A Body of Water, Knifeplay, Bleary Eyed… all those bands. They’re doing this cool shoegaze sound that’s less polished, [and] less clean than a lot of shoegaze that you hear.”

“jaundice,” the lead single for the group’s debut project cicada breath was released as a demo in 2022. The album features an updated mix for “jaundice” done by the group’s bass player, Joe Cardina. The new mixing brings out the song’s hauntingly beautiful guitar tones and Stuitje’s ephemeral delivery. It sets the tone for cicada breath’s sound with a harrowing, hazy riff. The band stacks guitar lines to create an engulfing swirl of satisfying distortion. The song’s cyclic nature between quiet and loud makes for an addicting listening experience. The gloomy song feels cinematic, like looking out at an impending giant storm cloud or a barren landscape scorched by fire.

“trustfall” keeps the same dark shoegaze energy but explores it at a faster pace with more punk influence and interlocking guitar melodies. This song exemplifies Garden Closet’s signature sound, a grimy shoegaze style complete with chaotic twists and turns. The ambient interlude “petrol” features a cavernous soundscape and dysphoric mood.

After this uneasy breathing point, “Mayfly” switches things up with louder vocals and a chorus brighter in tone than anything on the record so far. It feels like the ever-slightest bit of sunlight breaking through the clouds on this dreary album. A pretty slowcore section dazzles with a catchy guitar part in the middle portion.

“Floral Lining” features a similar oscillation between dark alt-shoegaze ferocity and warm, soft slowcore sections. This song’s more straightforward composition makes it one of the most satisfying on cicada breath. Similar to “jaundice,” “floral lining’s” dynamics and mood evolve at the perfect pace without overcomplicating things. The album’s contrasting states of emotion and accompanying dynamism have much to do with the content, as themes often discuss the pitfalls and highlights of early sobriety.

“flat tire” starts with upbeat guitar parts played at a hardcore velocity before the group quickly tears back the layers once again. The song gets genuinely eerie at its spacey midpoint, where the lead guitar and Stuitje mimic a ghostly melody at each other. The rest of the band comes in a few measures later to make it all the more dramatic.

The EP’s closer, “crossing wires,” feels sepulchral in its finality. The song reaches transcendence with continuous stark blasts of distortion, making for an incredible finish to the record.

Listening to cicada breath is like walking on a tightrope. One wrong step is a risk of complete disassociation. A step in the right direction ups the ante, and you may eventually become completely entranced by this album’s dark yet hypnotizing beauty. Try out the balancing act for yourself by checking out cicada breath on Spotify.