Building from a billowing cloud of voices into a hypnotic trek towards the unknown, Space Cubs’ “Gnaw” is picturesque, scene-setting ambient pop. The first track from the Buffalo-based band's latest EP, What iff, it’s a fantastic showcase of the group’s knack for weightless melodies and darkly soothing atmospheres.
True to its title, there’s an unmistakable dread piercing the heart of this song; beneath the swirling piano figure that loosely tethers the more ethereal elements, a thick layer of dissonance gleams like a knife. The sounds detune as an eerily organic yet metallic chorus swims in and out of prominence, playing anxious call and response with main vocalist Suzanne Bonifacio, her voice surging as these audible strands of doubt crowd around her.
When a beat does come in, it sinks “Gnaw” deeper into quicksand. Bass and drums seem to run in reverse. The soundscape pulls in tighter, sucking in a deep breath before the plunge. A digitized ride skips along and Bonifacio waxes about leaving it all behind and starting again, telling herself, trapped in the immense gravitational whirl of the now-dense instrumentals, that “The past is the past.” “Gnaw” eventually coasts to the finish, but at the close Space Cubs have broken through to rich and mysterious new territory.