Chillwave beached on Tumblr’s shores about a half-decade ago because the expiration date came with the nickname. Had it been branded “glo-fi” it would’ve made more sense and maybe had longevity that extended past a Hipster Runoff rite. But for all the eye-rolling, there was something welcoming to the idea of candy-dipping and sun-baking pop songs. Leaving them warped and hobbled, disoriented in the same way that you felt as a teenager when you’d smoke before noon, cancel all plans, and only be able to make it to the 7-11 to buy Slurpees. It wasn’t as much about unremembered 80s nostalgia as it was re-assembling the past in different formation. The same way that when you try to conjure up an old memory, something is always off — a friend is there who really wasn’t, a conversation is misrepresented like a game of telephone.
We’re probably going to have to use ocean tides as a metaphor for a band called High Tides. The most obvious ascription is that this is chillwave rolling back in, but I’d argue that that it’s canted at a different dock. If the much-maligned sub-genre was ultimately based on a bunch of bedroom artists writing pop songs and using lo-fi production technique to add a Sepia Instagram filter, High Tides come from a more genuinely bizarre place. The sort of scuzzy kaleidoscopic demon circus pop fundamental to the appeal of Black Moth Super Rainbow, who are fittingly releasing High Tides’ debut on their Rad Cult imprint this summer.
The video for “Sunware” comes complete with Kodachrome clips of couples traipsing on the beach, idiosyncratic bikini stretching rituals, yacht idles, and tropical vacation shots. It is immensely chill and in a world riven with riots, staggering economic inequality, and the stubborn persistence of Wale, it’s nice to have something to smoke spliffs and sip Malibu to.
If you’re looking for logistics, High Tides are Warren Kroll and Steve Lutes, who also go by Red Falcon Projects. According to Tom Fec of Black Moth Super Rainbow, they only record in wigs, Hawaiian shirts, and buzzed on Malibu. They attended his wedding like that. The Malibu is mixed with pink shit. Tobacco tried it and couldn’t handle it. That is immensely respectable. If chillwave was essentially a vacation, these are the weird locals you encounter: tanned skin, dilated eyes, double cups stuffed, no need for sunblock.