Womb’s sophomore album, ‘Dreaming of the Future Again’, is an ethereal and gorgeous experience, which dives directly into the heart of our emotional vulnerability.
For all the great bands that call Pōneke / Te Whanganui-a-Tara / Wellington home, Womb have established themselves among the city’s – and all of Aotearoa’s – finest. Cello Forrester (vocals, guitar), Haz Forrester (synths, keys), and Georgette Brown (drums) first introduced their world of knee-buckling dreamgaze and dream-pop in 2015 with their debut, self-titled EP, which was the equivalent of a cosmic dream. But instead of hurtling towards wormholes and the far reaches of space, the trio went in the opposite direction on their 2018 debut album, Like Splitting the Head From the Body, which was a gorgeous, deep dive into the psyche.
Womb continued to tread in these tranquil yet uneasy waters on 2021’s Holding a Flame EP, which was breathlessly devouring and one of the best mini-albums of the year. As the band approach a decade performing together, they find new ways to astound and provoke. They find new ways to leave listeners silenced and breathless, fully captivated by the sonic magic they conjure with a few instruments and Cello’s ethereal and evocative vocal. All the years they’ve spent perfecting their art has culminated in Dreaming of the Future Again, which is not just Womb’s finest effort to date but one of the great albums of 2022.
The LP opens in a very unassuming way with the taut “Sylvan’s Song”, on which Cello’s voice is drenched in autotune while the instrumentation is minimalist. They share the many images they were or could be, including a butterfly and a shooting star. The lyrics, “I dreamt I was a sliding door / I dreamt that I was revolving,” however, reveal the most, where Cello sees themselves as a constantly-evolving entity that has yet to reach their pinnacle.
The ascent begins with “Like in a Dream”, on which Womb slow the tempo and deliver an experience that is equivalent to a long, unflinching gaze into another person’s eyes. As the melody lightly sways, Cello softly sings to their partner, “Like a glass of water, you refracted the light / And I’m trying to move forward, baby, but you’re still by my side.”
The lush “Oceans” follows, which feels like a late-night sail across open water. Each note that emanates from Cello’s gauzy guitar, Haz’s spine-tingling keys, and Brown’s feathery percussion lingers a half-beat longer and, as such, wraps around our entire being. The song is paralyzing in its effect, as too are Cello’s emotional words of wanting to bridge the massive divide between two people.
“How come I feel, so far from you?
I like I’m standing outside
How come I feel, so far from you?
I just want to bring you
I need oceans.”
On “Clip Your Wings”, Womb begin to flex their muscle. While the moody dreaminess remains, it is delivered with crushing effect. Desperation yearns from Brown’s pulsating drum line and Cello’s weeping guitar. Cello’s voice also is full of despair, as they plead to a friend who is teetering on the edge. “The sky seems so much closer from where you stand,” they sing. The track then beautifully merges into the tender and hushed “Some Setting Sun”, which sounds like the flip side of “Wings”. Cello and Haz exchange lead vocals with the two revealing how their days begin and end with the other.
Womb turn to Mazzy Starr-esque dream-pop on the stunning “When I See You”. As the song gradually builds, it reaches blissful heights, particularly as Cello calls out, “Pull me closer / Pull me closer / We can grab from here.” Just when it did not seem possible for the band to reach more emotional zeniths, they unveil “The Dove”. Solemn, fragile, yet tense, the song pierces the soul despite the immensely restrained approach. As a synth quietly hovers in the background, Cello’s voice, which is tinged in autotune, is immersed in memory, singing to a parent, sibling, or friend whose life was taken far too soon.
“Maybe you’re up there in the sky
Maybe you’re up there in the rain
Hope you come find her again
Promise you I’ll keep her safe
This world let you down
You don’t know why your tears fall
Maybe you’re up there looking down
Maybe you’re up there looking down”
Like how the album began, it ends on a different note – one that is a little darker, a bit more urgent, yet still reflective. A Gothic tone touches “Dreaming of the Future Again”, as heavy strings and a plodding drum line support Cello’s defiant delivery. Their words are akin to a eulogy but delivered only to themselves. A message that they have lost many loved one, faced several setbacks, and encountered numerous struggles, yet they have overcome. That Womb have persevered all these years, turning desperation, longing, and uncertainty into startling art.
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