Under Review

Under Review: Desire, or a Common Place, Sigh Down One

Nathan Chizen-Velasco

Shoegaze is so hot right now — so is yearning. Desire, or a Common Place, the second LP from Sigh Down One (artist Sasha J Langford’s solo project), takes both of these things and ties them together with a velvety dream-pop bow.

Desire, or a Common Place, embodies the yearningl gaze that indie pop has increasingly taken on within the last half decade or so. Songs blend in and out of one another, retaining a consistent, melancholic feel throughout the album’s forty minutes. As straightforward drum machines and synths are laid carefully underneath fuzzy pedals and low-fi filters, Langford’s soothing voice echoes over them in a near-perfect compliment. The album’s opener, “You and I,” sees this happen almost instantaneously, as gentle garage-like guitar riffs are met with Langford’s lyrics. The track bleeds desire, as does each one that follows.

Like the crooners of the 1950s, Langford knows how to sound romantic and wistful, minus the embarrassing desperation that plagues many of the former’s most iconic tracks. Plainly put and precisely delivered, the album’s soft spoken vocals see Langford looking inward, inviting listeners to join in on an emotionally insular experience. It’s one of desire and dissociation, recognizable to anyone who’s gazed at their shoes or experienced a love that may or may not have been requited. The album perpetuates these feelings throughout its runtime, as its instrumentation often swells with poppy melodies and drum tracks that know when to pull their punches. “An Image and a Truth,” the penultimate track of Desire, or a Common Place, encapsulates this notion, as brushed cymbals and light tambourines make way for the album’s most wistful lyrics. If this song is the confession, “Counting Backwards” serves as the near-perfect goodbye. 

Shoegaze-y, grungy, and appropriately sad, Desire, or a Common Place is a solid listen for grungeheads and indie enjoyers alike. Part Molly Nillson and part Au Revoir Simone, the album knows exactly what it is and how to achieve it. With a homogenous energy across its nine tracks, Desire, or a Common Place is familiar, at times lush, and completely comforting.