Rays is comprised of four Bay-area music veterans; Stanley Martinez, Eva Hannan, Troy Hewitt and Alexa Pantalone whose current and past musical projects include local bands-of-note like The World, Life Stinks, Violent Change, and Dadfag. On their eponymous debut the band spins eleven tunes of wiry, urgent post-punk, one foot planted firmly in the nihilistic apathy of 70 and 80's punk (Wire, Electric Eels, Pere Ubu, Eno, Television, The Fall), Australian punk past and present (UV Race, Terry, Victims, Babeez), and the addictive strum of 80's & 90's New Zealand/Flying Nun pop; all of whom have found their own way to meld the ferocity and thuggery of punk with a singular melodic voice.
Rays are no different; the swirling jangle of "Attic" starts the album off, sardonically extolling the joy of 'attic life' with Hannan's monotone conveying an underlying sense of dread and isolation. "Dead Man's Curve," with it's hook-filled, organ-laden chorus plays like a lost teenage tragedy song, celebrating the desperation and angst of reckless youth. Elsewhere, tunes like "Theatre of Lunacy," "Made of Shadows" and "Drop Dead" rage with a desperate fire, speaking to the absurdities of everyday life, but with a wry smile. Shit is fucked, but the members of Rays seem intent on finding humor within the world's everyday desperation, because sometimes that's the only way to stay sane. "Pain & Sorrow," "Back Downtown" all speak to these truths. The album ends with Hannon's "Over and Over," it's sweet melody belying a derisive outlook on the necessity of modern life and the repetition it requires.
Throughout it all, Rays' debut never feels angry, Recorded by Bay-area stalwart Kelley Stoltz and mastered by Australian tone-genius Mikey Young (Total Control, Eddy Current Suppression Ring) Rays is a joyous album packed with weird new-wave swirls and sugar-sticky hooks.