Beyond the random noise and melodic chaos, Forever In Your Heart is a record that suggests peace, calm, and happiness for Black Dresses in the future.
It’s not immediately apparent whether I should refer to Toronto-based industrial-noise-pop duo Black Dresses in the past, present, or future tense. All make sense: in 2020, the band announced their dissolution in a Twitter post; in the early days of 2021, they released Forever In Your Heart, an unexpected album of blistering glitch pop and surprising tenderness that’s left many feeling (hoping?) that there’s more to come from Devi McCallion and Ada Rook. As the final buzz, slash and whirl of Forever In Your Heart play out, it’s hard to deny that it’s the perfect swan song to their four-album-long foray into genre-switching. If indeed it is their final release, it is a record that suggests peace, calm, and happiness is on the horizon — for both them and their fans.
You don’t have to get Black Dresses’ relentless energy and fury to appreciate the motivating themes and undercurrents in their work. It’s not the churning industrial metal stomp of opener “PEACESIGN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” that resonates as much as McCallion’s tender and vulnerable wail as she introduces the song’s recurring lyric, “Can we make something beautiful with NO hope?” The short answer is, yes, they can. And they can make it loud and scary and can sustain the intensity over nearly an hour’s worth of music. “Concrete Bubble” addresses millennial malaise and ever-constant uncertainty all in one go. “I know it’s not easy for anyone,” sings McCallion, “But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try,” before asking for both physical and mental space: “I’m dealing with my own shit right now / You can deal with your own shit somewhere else.” Similar sentiments show up on “We’ll Figure It Out,” a song that recognizes the futility in trying and the paradox that the only way out is to throw oneself into the fray persistently: “I’M DROWNING AND I’M FLOATING / I’M DREAMING AND I’M HELPLESS / I DON’T GIVE A SHIT IF IT DOESN’T WORK / I’VE DONE A LOT OF THINGS AND NONE OF THEM WORKED.”
It is in lyrics like these that signs of life for Black Dresses continue to linger. In May of 2020, weeks after the release of the album Peaceful as Hell, the band announced that they had effectively ceased to exist due to a relentless barrage of harassment from fans on social media directed at McCallion. In the wake of their announcement, another battalion of supporters openly mourned their loss and pleaded with Rook and McCallion to continue. The duo has made clear that Forever In Your Heart is to be the last Black Dresses album. What else is evident for those who listen beyond the random noise and melodic chaos is that, even in death (of the band), their impact, legacy, influence, and music will live on forever in the hearts, minds, and souls of those whom Black Dresses have touched. And in their way, in their own time, Rook and McCallion will figure out what is to come next.