The video for Blue Tomorrows' first single, "Sound of Moving," is a collage of TV static, moody mountain landscapes and glitchy images of rose petals on piano keys. It roves and repeats, creating a loop that leads nowhere in particular.
The video embodies the meditative, lo-fi bedroom pop of Blue Tomorrows' debut full-length, Without Color. Due out Sept. 13, the album captures the aimless odyssey of being a 20-something.
Blue Tomorrows is the solo project of Sarah Nienaber from psych trios Web of Sunsets and Candace, the latter of which was voted one of WW's Best New Bands in 2016. Nienaber recorded Without Color in her basement studio during the past year. The result is a nine-track collection of ethereal, shoegaze-tinged folk pop that layers her childlike voice over guitars, soft synths and drum machines.
Though she hails from Minneapolis, Nienaber has mastered the sound of the Pacific Northwest. The slow-burning synths, haunting vocals and Northwestern imagery of Without Color tracks like "For Wishing/Sea of Empty" bring to mind the title sequence of Twin Peaks. The languid ambience of the album sounds as if it were made for a long drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, as roadside landscapes blur and time melts away. "My freedom aches, while the highway cries," Nienaber sings in "Palisades," evoking the drowsy dream pop of Mazzy Star and Beach House.
Without Color feels at once aloof and deeply personal. Nienaber's lyrics could've been ripped from secret diary pages. Even "Seashell Foxtrot," an interlude that omits Nienaber's voice altogether, samples a voicemail from "Uncle Tim from Florida," who reminisces about carrying her across a beach because she didn't want to step on seashells.
The lyrics capture the time between adolescence and adulthood, between nostalgia over what has been and daydreams of what could be. Each song fades into the next, creating an immersive soundscape for listeners to get lost in, and to get lost to. On "Sonoma Mt. Rd. (Deep Summer)," Nienaber sings, "Burn the map I don't need/'Cause you said I'd know where to go."
Through its meditations on wandering around and running away, Without Color finds a delicate balance of uncertainty, freedom and unmoored hope. In its penultimate track, "Calgary," the album reaches catharsis: "This twisted road's got nothin' on me, just distance [and] time."
In that sense, Without Color makes the case that being young and adrift can be fruitful. It leaves you with the feeling that twists and turns lead somewhere, even if the destination is not yet in sight.
SEE IT: Blue Tomorrows plays Doug Fir Lounge, 830 E Burnside St., dougfirlounge.com, with Sunbathe and Dolphin Midwives, on Tuesday, Sept. 17. 9 pm. $10 advance, $12 day of show. 21+.