Tom Serner had always intended to make a debut solo album in 2020. He couldn’t have known, though, how the unique nature of the year would shape it. By the time the world began to grind to a halt in March, Serner found himself, like a lot of us, with plenty of time on his hands. “It gave me the opportunity to go deeper into a kind of research process.”
He’d always known that he wanted this first album under his Sindy moniker to be a love letter to the nineties influences he grew up with, continuing in the vein of Hits for Kids, last year’s thrilling five-track EP. Now, he had the opportunity to take deep dives in the catalogues of cornerstones of the decade’s alt-rock pantheon, starting first with Radiohead, charting their progression from post-grunge to experimental electronica. With that foundation laid, he turned to shoegaze, obsessing over My Bloody Valentine: “I was inspired by the textural approach to music over melody, even though MBV have both – Bilinda Butcher’s soft, ethereal vocals and Kevin’s weirdo guitar tunings.” As the process wore on, he explored the more eclectic side of the Sonic Youth oeuvre, reappraised Sebadoh’s legendary III, and found a kindred spirit in Daniel Johnston, who’s lyricism chimed with Serner’s desire to imbue his music with a naiveté brought on by freedom of thought.
The fruits of this musical odyssey are in the nine tracks of Horror Head, which plays like a paean to the stranger side of nineties alternative. Written at home in Stockholm and recorded in conjunction with co-producer Jacob Haage at Studio Ging Ging, the album is a technicolor realisation of Serner’s vision; it filters his influences through a dream pop lens, recasting a decade’s worth of indie rock in the mould of Cocteau Twins. Stylistically, it twists and turns through a slalom of fresh ideas, from the airy prettiness of ‘Big Scare’ to the driving noise pop of ‘Phantom Limb’. At the centre of it all are Serner’s breathy vocals – think an off-kilter Elliott Smith, delivering what Serner himself describes as “seriously deranged four-chord songs”.
Order from Sindy on transparent pink marble w/t-shirt or standard black vinyl. Released by PNKSLM Recordings. Digital download also available.