Sep 11, 2013
Photography by Chona Kasinger Issue #46 - June/July 2013 - Charli XCX
Just before the release of Still Corners' second album, Strange Pleasures, the London-based dream pop group—and avowed film aficionados—were asked to name a few of their favorite movie sequels.
"I like The Godfather II," says Greg Hughes, the band's principal songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.
"Beethoven's 2nd," jokes singer Tessa Murray.
"Beethoven's 2nd? That's terrible," Hughes laughs. "One of my favorite ones is actually the last Back to the Future, where they go back to the West."
Strange Pleasures, the follow-up to Still Corners' engrossing 2011 debut, Creatures of an Hour, is even moodier and more atmospheric, a case where the sequel improves upon the original. It boasts a larger scope than its smaller-sounding predecessor; there's a spacious, ethereal quality to the new one that calls back to classic Cocteau Twins recordings, or The Cure's Disintegration.
"We started writing some of these songs directly after Creatures," says Hughes. "The songs, as they were coming out, were just different. We kept writing and writing, and just seeing what happened. They kind of naturally formed as these sort of epic-sounding songs, and we just expanded on it. Creatures was more introspective, maybe more pulled-back sounding. This was a more spectrally interesting, epic-sounding record."
In the studio, Still Corners is primarily Hughes and Murray, while guitarist Leon Dufficy and bassist Luke Jarvis join them on the road. Murray was brought into the songwriting process earlier on this time around. As a result, the new record sounds more tailored around her emotive singing style.
"On this one, I could push it a bit more than with the first one, because it was more in my range," says Murray. "[My voice] probably got a bit more powerful, after lots of live shows."
They weren't consciously trying to push their sound in any one direction for this album; those developments came as a byproduct of the methods they had always used for songwriting.
"The biggest thing for us is making sure that each song moves us emotionally," says Hughes. "And making sure we pushed ourselves as far as we could. Our main goal is to outdo ourselves. I don't know that we always have, but we always try."
While much was made of the influence that various film scores and composers had on the first album, Strange Pleasures sounds more like the work of a band carving out their own identity rather than looking to others for inspiration.
"With this one, it was more of the accumulation of influences over the years," says Murray. "It was more natural in terms of what came out, rather than us trying to achieve a certain vibe."
"That's why we called it Strange Pleasures," Hughes adds. "These songs were coming out and they sounded different than our previous songs. That was sort of our way of embracing it, because we liked that. It was like, 'This is weird, but we love it.' The title Strange Pleasures reflected that."
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