Static Shapes performs at the Maas Building, 2019 | photo by John Vettese for WXPN
Static Shapes makes a soaring debut with “Wolves In White” single and video
A group of regulars from the aughties indie scene in Philly have teamed up in Static Shapes, a new project that marries propulsive guitar rock with vivid synthesizer atmospheres and nervy lyrics about existing in a cold and unsympathetic world.
The band’s new single “Wolves In White,” released Friday, is filled with lyrical anxiety, but dressed up in an elegant, almost tranquil synth-pop groove. This dichotomy is no surprise coming from primary songwriter Steve Yutzy-Burkey; in his previous project, the beloved Philly rock four-piece The Swimmers, he sang about coping with catastrophe, mortality, and other sorts of severe change, but he did it to the sound of bright indie power-pop (2006’s Fighting Trees) and soaring electro-rock (2009’s People Are Soft).
On Static Shapes, Yutzy-Burkey is joined once again by longtime bassist Rick Seiber (who has played with him back through The Swimmers to his first band One Star Hotel), and backed by keys player Alex Yaker of Roomtone and Summer Fiction, as well as drummer Mike Kennedy of Audible and Lefty’s Deceiver.
Each player brings their strengths to “Wolves In White”: Sieber’s zen-like bass groove rides in the forefront, while Yaker’s deep knowledge of synth tones brings a late 80s Cure sensibility to the mix when locking arms with Yutzy-Burkey’s guitar line. Kennedy is known for being a dynamic drummer in general, and he rides the rhythmic spectrum from a nuanced, subtle beat on the one side to an explosive finale; additionally, Kennedy worked with Yutzy-Burkey on the song’s production, which was completed social distancing style during the pandemic.
Yutzy-Burkey, for his part, sings in a Tweedy-esque melodic deadpan, and his imagery of running down halls, racing from shadows, and searching for feeling is a robust reflection of the complicated emotions of being surrounded by upheaval in 2020 and wondering when it will reach you. In a press release, Yutzy-Burkey says he was inspired to write the band’s debut album, Give Me The Bad News, after dreaming about sea levels rising so much that his river wards neighborhood was engulfed in water.
A stunning and surreal music video directed by Mike Gallagher and Weston Fahey depicts that anxiety by juxtaposing naturalistic imagery — drone footage of central Pennsylvania forests, handheld shots of waterside paths in FDR Park — with color-saturated scenes of studio artifice: the band playing in shining geometric wolf masks, crouching alongside brick walls and under house-shaped wood enclosures, soaked in darkness and neon.
Watch “Wolves In White” below, and keep your sights on Static Shapes’ website, where they’ll release Give Me The Bad News on December 4th.