My fascination with dream pop — a genre characterized by washy guitars and airy, indistinct vocals — lies in its effects when done right: a sense of vague translocation and a fleeting feeling of transcendence. Cambridge's latest submission for this drony niche, Night Fruit, have not yet hit that plane (they've existed for just seven months), but what they do have speaks to something greater, albeit grittier.
Far from the standard fare of dank basements and Allston practice spaces, the trio — who come to T.T. the Bear's on Saturday — recently invited me into their Cambridge living room to hear a few songs and talk. They set up in the middle of the room bombarded by eight separate studio lights hung at opposing angles. Acting as luminous concussions, these treated the room with an æthereal glow that fit the band's sound, the lights' shimmer set against the guitar's shoegazy warbles, the glaring blaze against Amanda Dellevigne's sinuous pop melodies and "dreams of forest fires." If that doesn't convey a proper sense of dreamy haze, let's just say this was stepping into outer space.
Night Fruit bear resemblance to their local forebears in Swirlies, but with more of a Slowdive subtexture and a Swervedriver brashness. Their four-song Triangles demo moves from the cloud-dipped synth tones of "Sea Blood" through the angular guitar patterns of the two middle tracks to the guitar-saturated anthem "Lover." Dellevigne's vocals are a type of hypnotic you might associate with Medusa. The band's soundscape is based equally on Dellevigne's song sketches and their collaborative practice methods. "I'll usually have vocal melodies that magically fit over things we've done already," she explains. "We usually write a bunch of parts, then decide where they go."
Night Fruit have been a band only since February, but they have a storied (local) past together and apart. Dellevigne started Hot Box with a former professor at Boston College and later sought another member via Craigslist. The internet led them to guitarist Jon Gill, who had recently moved from New York and was in search of a band.
"I found a bunch of postings that were awful, usually like 'metal drummer wanted,' or 'we need a diva who knows how to swing,' " says Gill. "But theirs just said, 'HOT BOX,' and I said, 'Sweet.' "
Hot Box's bubble burst in 2008, at the beginning of the recession, when the members all lost their jobs and the band had to break up. Dellevigne moved to Berlin, later returning to Boston, the same job, almost the same band, and an apartment a block away from her former home. Gill stuck around Boston; the other two members moved west.
"It's strange to think about, but we actually were hit by the economic downturn," says Gill. "But then we all came back and found Luke [Sullivan] and started again." Sullivan moonlights as Night Fruit's drummer when he's not playing guitar in Left Hand Does. He spent the two previous years as a sound engineer recording bands, and he did the Night Fruit demo in the band's practice space.
"Jon and I write a lot differently together, and we were interested in making Night Fruit a lot heavier and a bit uneasy," says Dellevigne. "Luke added a lot of depth to the recordings with extra ambient vocals and effects."