Sylvan Esso

What Now

Loma Vista

Apr 25, 2017 Issue #60 - Father John Misty Bookmark and Share


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Undeniably, the respective talents of singer Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn, the team that is Sylvan Esso, were made for each other. You can just see the eyebrows of Meath raise when she hears the tracks her partner has cooked up, thinking of the paths her seductive elocution can take through their ballooning shapes. Sanborn is a soundscape architect of buildings, roads, and bridges all bubbled out like tires freshly inflated. Meanwhile Meath runs through them with the animation of Sonic the Hedgehog, maneuvering acrobatically in vocal leaps and bounds. An added bonus is that hers aren't absent musings. Sylvan Esso's sophomore album What Now is a performance of musical ballroom dancing; an impressive demonstration of compatible fluency in artistic languages of partners, and routinely with the harmony that nearly makes the heart ache. Evidently, they bring the best out of each other.

The two really hit stride, or glide, on "Die Young" with its washing intoxication. Meath creeps up to the neon liquid outpour of synth drops like a cat to the ledge before plunging into a glorious melodic freefall. The album flow awareness is paramount when "Radio" then immediately pulls you down stream in an uptempo indie-tronica riptide. Sanborn is, apart from being slightly overzealous in places, discerning with the placement of his rhythmic rails, involving them with accent, allowing the synth and string currents to flood out over their razor edges.

Then there is the letting down of the guard in the album wind down of "Slack Jaw," a minimal voltaic ballad that devastates. Sylvan Esso fans will fall deeper in love with the duo on this second album, while its casual onlookers won't be able to unlock their gaze. (www.sylvanesso.com)

Author rating: 7.5/10

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