Knifeplay - Animal Drowning


“It’s the sound of young people trudging through a vacant world, left with the rotting corpse of the American dream.” – Jacqueline Codiga / Pitchfork

“To call Knifeplay a shoegaze band is to undersell the glorious sounds they conjure on “Promise.”” – Chris DeVille / Stereogum

Knifeplay’s sophomore full-length, and first ever studio album Animal Drowning is a sprawling landscape of shoegaze and lofty slowcore. The album finds the band in a blend of folk instruments, walls of distortion, orchestral strings and delicate vocals, all carefully organized by Philadelphia engineer/producer Jeff Zeigler, known for his work with Nothing, Kurt Vile, and more.

Though their sonic palette is vast, Knifeplay craft a cohesive aesthetic to carry frontman Tj Strohmer’s thematically heavy songwriting, which touches on loss of all kinds against the backdrop of a nihilistic world. These songs cry out with urgency no matter their ever-varied tempo and dynamic, each painting a unique vignette of tragedy. Yet the band’s dense, meticulously composed instrumentation exudes beauty, creating a lightness to balance the subject matter.

With Animal Drowning, Knifeplay goes deeper into the sonic experimentation and brutally honest lyricism so beloved on their early bedroom recordings, creating an enrapturing experience that deftly builds on previous work.

Knifeplay is a band that eludes definition, existing somewhere between the nihilistic detachment of shoegaze and the emotional honesty of folk songwriting. Originally a solo bedroom recording project of Tj Strohmer’s, they’ve made a slow and careful shift into a collaborative, production focused, studio recorded band. Through their ever-expanding genre palette, range of fidelities, and long list of collaborators runs a unique current that ties everything together.

Informed by his experiences living in Philadelphia and their contrast with his rural southern Maryland upbringing, Strohmer’s sometimes straightforward, sometimes dreamlike, but always philosophical lyrics feature scenes of darkness from many different aspects of life. He deals with themes of death, drugs, heartbreak, abuse, and self-destruction, all expressed through a delicate vocal style, which, combined with the band’s lush orchestral instrumentation gives a beautiful lightness to the heavy subject matter.

Since their 2017 debut of home-recorded EPs, Knifeplay have earned a dedicated cult following through acclaimed debut album Pearlty (2019) and a lengthy B-Sides Compilation (2020), all either self-released or through small run tape labels. In 2021 they entered the studio with producer Jeff Zeigler, known for his work with Kurt Vile, Nothing, The War on Drugs, and more, first producing the Hurt Someone EP (Born Losers Records) before recording their upcoming sophomore full-length, Animal Drowning, to be released via Topshelf Records on October 19, 2022.

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