12 Songs, 1 Hour, 2 Minutes


Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5

9 Ratings

9 Ratings

Shoegaze goodness

Scolding a Banana

RIYL Slowdive, et al.

Shoegaze worth waiting for!


An excellent LP from Airiel, and one that has been a long time coming. Their Winks and Kisses set, in my eyes, is the pinnacle of shoegaze/dream pop, covering a wide expanse of sound and texture in ways I've never seen from another act. Although this album doesn't quite cover as much ground, it is delicately crafted, delectably infectious, remarkably powerful, and filled with a level emotion that is all too often set aside in the genre in favor of another layer of noise.

To be honest, their initial LP wasn't their finest hour. I still listen to a few tracks off it on occasion ("Thinktank","You Kids..."), but none of it carried the punch of Mister Wrenn's EPs. This offering, thankfully, is much more what one should expect from such a skilled musician(s). If I had to pick out the weak tracks, I would single out "Cloudburst" - the chorus reminds me too much of "Roxanne" by the Police, oddly enough - and "Sharron Apple", only because the original off of W&K is superior.

Still, these tracks are more than passable; the remainder is simply exceptional. "My Lips, Your Mouth" sounds as though it should have been featured on the Melted EP (a good thing), "Red Car" carries an insatiable hook that I keep going back to, and "You Sweet Talker" excels at both being gorgeously melancholy and sweepingly sentimental. These would be odd descriptors for tracks offered up by a typical shoegaze band; however, this is Airiel we're talking abound, and this is simply what they do. All around, a phenomenal effort.

It's high time Wrenn and Company are given a seat at the table of preeminent shoegaze/dream pop artists. Their time in the sun (or melancholy shadow, perhaps?) is long overdue. Well done, gentlemen!



The second full-length album from Chicago’s Airiel is a smashing success. The timing of its release is also fantastic for fans of the genre as the genre’s pioneers have awakened from decades old hibernation to captivate old and young listeners alike. Airiel proves they aren’t impersonators and belong with a seat at the table. Airiel have been doing this since the late 90s, but many have not heard of them. This album is a great gateway into the band and showcases the band in top form. Standouts are Cloudburst, Keep You, the revised Sharron Apple, and the title track. I just hope the band doesn’t wait another five years to put out new material. Far too talented. This will not leave you playlist for a long while...enjoy it, treasure it, dance to it.

About Airiel

Active since the late '90s, Airiel's ambitious brand of spacy, wistful dream pop has earned a small but dedicated following. The Chicago-based group's lush washes of effects-heavy guitars and yearning vocals bring to mind U.K. shoegaze acts like Kitchens of Distinction and Ride as well as American indie songwriters like Bob Mould.

Guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Wrenn, formerly of shoegaze band Black Olive, founded Airiel Project One in Bloomington, Indiana in 1997. Following a 1998 split EP with the Sunflower Conspiracy, Wrenn shortened the band's name to just Airiel, and British label Roisin Recordings released their debut 7" single, "Shirley Temple Tidal Wave." Eventually relocating to Chicago, the group sporadically appeared on compilations and gave away a limited CD-R EP titled Christmas Colors in 2002, but no proper Airiel releases surfaced until 2003, when they initiated a series of Winks & Kisses EPs, each of which included one epic approaching (or exceeding) the ten-minute mark. After being individually released by Clairecords between July 2003 and June 2004, all four were issued as a limited CD box set at the end of the year.

A self-titled EP was issued by Sonicbaby Records in 2005, and Airiel toured across the East Coast of America. Their debut album, The Battle of Sealand, appeared on Highwheel Records in 2007. Recorded by the lineup of Wrenn, guitarist Chris DeBrizzio, bassist/vocalist Cory Osborne, and drummer John Rungger, the album featured a collaboration with electro-shoegaze producer Ulrich Schnauss, who programmed skittery beats on the song "Sugar Crystals." Airiel toured Europe with Schnauss in 2008, although Osborne and Rungger had left the band by this point.

Airiel resurfaced on Shelflife Records in 2012 with the Kid Games EP, recorded by Wrenn along with Andrew Marrah and Chase Johnson, and sporting a more synth-heavy sound than the band's prior work. In 2015, Winks & Kisses was released as a triple LP, including three new bonus remixes. The 2016 single "Cloudburst" preceded Airiel's second proper full-length, Molten Young Lovers, which arrived in 2017. For this album, the group's lineup consisted of Wrenn, Marrah, bassist Matt Blanton, and drummer Spencer Kiss. ~ Paul Simpson