Album Review: Graffiti Welfare — Revolving Shores
Graffiti Welfare is a psych-pop musician based in Denver. His debut album Revolving Shores skillfully constructs a captivating storyline of doubt and self-reflection, creating a profound experience that feels like a real journey.

The album opener To Be It is a sea of textures. The water in the sea is the bassy, resonant digital electric piano. And the beautifully thin, spiky, acid-tinged synths are its salt. The sea is no desert. After almost three minutes of drifting without seeing the horizon comes the first encounter. We hear a voice that introduces us to the mastermind that created Revolving Shores and invites us on a journey.

Who does this voice belong to? A weird talking fish? A sea devil in disguise? None of these. The voice on To Be It is philosopher Alan Watts. His quote introduces us to Revolving Shores and announces the theme of the album.

Alan Watts
When I try to explain what I mean by digging a sound, I suddenly realize that I'm not really saying anything. And yet there are states of consciousness in which you can listen to sound and realize that that is the whole point of being alive. Just to go with this particular energy manifestation that is happening right at this moment. To be it. The whole world is the energy playing at doing all this. Like a kaleidoscope, jazzing.

"The Inevitable Ecstasy, Part 15: The Meaningless Life"
We soon realize that in the world we have entered everything is an illusion. Maybe it's not a sea, but a cave. Just Follow is a pleasantly disorienting soundscape that adds deepness and sonic thickness to what we have heard in the intro. Its vocals instantly bring to mind Tame Impala's Kevin Parker. However, the music itself utilizes a very different sonic palette than Graffiti Welfare's Australian spiritual brother, adding darker colors and a sort of digital gloss that makes the record stand out.
DejaBlue is a complete change of environment. It starts even thicker, with deep bass, shy and clumsy drums and head-spinning vocals creating a claustrophobic feeling in the listener. After about half a minute all the instruments disappear, and only the piano is left. You feel like you've just walked out of the deep, dense forest into the light. The air is fresh, the world is beautiful. But sooner than you could think the walls of trees start closing in again. This game continues for the rest of the track, sometimes in more nuanced ways, sometimes being more in your face, reminding you nothing is what it seems in the world of Graffiti Welfare.
The misleadingly-titled Good News introduces anxiety to the emotional palette. You are leaving the colorful sonic worlds – forests, seas, caves – to turn your glance within. And what do you see? You see nothing. But you feel the storm is brewing. Wet hi-hats and bubbly synths sound like echoes of distant raindrops. The track ends abruptly, leaving you puzzled. Was this storm another illusion?
Volume's frenetic drums and muffled hand claps add a sort of celebratory vibe. We haven't heard the storm foretold in Good News, but we hear the tribe is celebrating, dancing and cheering in its afterglow.
Echoes of Our Sound is an interlude with a soundbed of piano and digital synths and relaxed vocals. We are tired after the long disorienting journey. We needed this break.
Synthesthesia gently pulls us back in, introducing the familiar elements from previous tracks – Graffiti Welfare's trademark piano, washed out digital synths and thin psychedelic drums. The new element here are the 80s-inspired jangly guitars. The track is a mini-journey in itself, starting in a more relaxed way and then adding drama with evil-sounding synths closer to the end.
Nothing Ever Changes approaches sonic painting in a more straightforward way, starting with creek samples. Then we hear some sun-laden synths, warm guitars and heavy drum machine samples, creating a comfortable and fuzzy picture with pleasantly bubbly and playful psychedelic synth touches, reminiscent of Animal Collective. This track is bright and hopeful, like a warm sunny day.
Missing the War with its churchy organ sounds and slow textural vocals is the epiphany that awaited us at the end of this strange adventure. And album closer Seashell is minimalistic and hopeful. Its joyful synth melodies and energetic jumping hi-hats sound like a promise of a new journey. We've been transformed. We've learned something new about ourselves on this trip. And where is the next trip going to take us? Hold your breath and follow Graffiti Welfare on social media to see.