EP: Goth Lipstick – ‘formless, shapeless’

An EP that the band describe as “a slice-of-life isekai about the adventures of two wraiths”, formless, shapeless from San Francisco’s DIY emo duo Goth Lipstick draws you effortlessly into their candy-coated, glitch-splattered dream world. Following their full length album crystalline corset from earlier this year, formless, shapeless continues to explore themes of identity and queer liberation.

The EP consists of fairly short tracks, with most lasting less than two minutes thirty seconds. The single exception is ‘faceless, nameless’, which reaches a whole four minutes. Every track is incredibly tightly constructed. None of them feel too short; each one feels exactly long enough to tell its story and then wraps without wasting any time, leaving you with the precise impression it wanted to convey.

The collection begins with the titular ‘formless, shapeless’ – a slow, soft rumble that leads into quick, clicking percussion under high chirpy keys and husky vocals. While the tempo, energy and general style of the tracks vary, this opening song establishes some key elements early on that are consistent through the EP.

As a whole, the EP creates a distinctly unique and endlessly interesting soundscape, blending distorted and electronic sounds with gentle, clear piano notes. The relationship between the different types of sound is key to the Goth Lipstick style, with acoustic and electric notes dancing playfully around each other, with those echoing vocals floating over the top.

The use of glitches too gives these songs so much character. The jerks and digital stumbles always hit at exactly the right moment, whether that’s ripping into a vocal that’s well into its stride or distorting sounds that are just starting to build, creating a more chaotic journey from the first couple of beats.

Whilst there are massive differences in feeling from track to track, they fit so well together that they flow beautifully.

The second track, ‘wraiths awake’, brings a bigger energy into the EP. It is broadly more upbeat, but winds down into vocals that have a sense of vulnerability about them, before bouncing back into the hyped electronica.

‘identity thief’, all heavy growling, glitching bass, is followed by the light and chirpy ‘chocolate’, then the rich swollen beats of ‘fangs’, which wouldn’t be out of place heard on a nightclub dance-floor at midnight.

Somehow these seemingly conflicting songs sit very comfortably side by side on this EP. It feels much more like this is down to a matter of attitude than any one particular technical component. The songs sit so well because they feel made to be played together, and you can feel how much fun the artists had constructing every beat of the finished product.

It’s so easy to get drawn into Goth Lipstick’s story, to bathe in the cool, flowing emotions heavy in this EP. It’s not surprising to see that the first edition cassette run is already sold out.

formless, shapeless, the latest EP from Goth Lipstick, is out now. It is available to download via bandcamp.

Kirstie Summers
@ActuallyKurt

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