• By: Owen Maxwell

Album Reviews: Emma Anderson, Lost Girls, Priya Ragu

Emma Anderson – Pearlies
(London, England)

In her first solo record, Emma Anderson brings the wonder of her bands Lush and Sing-Sing, while taking the actual emotion of the music somewhere different. Moody in its own way, the album sees Anderson blending experimental effects tones with retro alt-pop tones for a great departure in her body of work. “Bend the Round” brings a hazy psychedelia, with Anderson calling through the shimmering and metallic rings in the track as your sole guide through its dense fog. There’s a vintage organ pop drive to “Inter Light,” which evokes a kind of desert magic in its bones as well before the mystical tones of its glowing choruses. The more floating arrangements of “Taste the Air” create a more ghostly tone to the song, with Anderson loosing all these small but bright guitar lines to colour in the track’s tapestry.  “The Presence” blends the highs and more unnerving production notes of the record to make a pop track that feels haunted at times.

Tanoki Desire (Single)
(Kilkenny, Ireland)

With a slow but pained feeling, Tanoki hits a melancholic but romantic note on “Desire” with Moses Moorhouse. Bringing hints of Alt-J and Metronomy on this latest single, there’s an off-kilter dizziness to the flow of the track, with every note feeling like an uneasy step forward. The impassioned cries by Moorhouse add to the overall weight of the track’s plea, though not every one of these is backed with enough instrumentation to hit quite as hard. The guitars are angular, and synths harsh at times, playing to the frustration in the vocals as well. Tanoki shifts the track from more electronically-driven to more guitar-charged movement in the song, creating an everchanging kineticism within the track.

Lost Girls – Selvutsletter
(Tvedestrand/Trondheim, Norway)

Jenny Hval and Håvard Volden find a musical sweet spot when they work together as Lost Girls, and it feels refined to a knife on their latest record. Explorative and addictive, the pair make something that transcends genre to go down smooth while still being challenging. The wash of bassy production on “Timed Intervals” washes over you like a menacing cloud, with Hval’s vocals perfectly oscillating between heavenly rolls and cracking growls to bring a brutal emotional weight to the track. Though the dark ambiance remains on “With the Other Hand,” there’s an amazing rush of pop writing going through here, to let all of the wavy guitars and whispered vocals add depth to an already mesmerizing track. To this end, “Ruins” rides a cold chill while its guitars create a charging force for Hval to play off of, until the track grows into this wall of groaning tones and Hval’s high calls to the ether. The warm hug of the guitars and echoes on “June 1996” is serene and soothing, with Hval’s vocals matching that ray-like feeling, and even reaching a boiling point through some warped harmonies in the song’s later choruses.

Altin Gün Doktor Civanim (Single)
(Amsterdam, Netherlands/Turkey)

Apart from anything in their punchy discography so far, Altin Gün have created a new standout single with their latest track “Doktor Civanim.” The disco runs of the track grip you immediately, letting the bubbly synth fly, and Merve Daşdemir’s voice serve as both commanding narrator and disco diva. The group’s usual Turkish roots come through most in the bass and certain synth melodies, asserting their unique flavour within the genre, and lending the song some of its most intoxicating elements of all. Amidst all this and the larger sound shift for the band, it’s great to see them playing with drum breaks and a more effects-heavy space in the overall energy of the track as a whole. Daşdemir’s phone-like choral lines are an equally fun choice, setting the track at this moment in time, reaching out, and painting in the unique texture of the song even more.

Priya Ragu Santhosam
(Bazenheid/Zurich, Switzerland)

Mixing in Tamil music hooks to a funky and rotating blend of R&B and electronic pop influences, Priya Ragu has found a niche that works in ways that are surprisingly under-explored. With sublime percussion, finessed melodies and detailed production, this is a standout record from an artist who could easily become the next big thing. Between the bumping beats and Ragu’s slinking vocal line, “School Me Like That” has this wondrously layered pop that rides its endless harmonies and builds its drums into a mountainous force. While “One Way Ticket” is effortlessly infectious in its very DNA, it’s that bass run and drum stomp that give the track a unique earworm long before some of the more Dua Lipa-esque choruses (in the best way possible, of course). Not straying away from intense commentary about police violence against BIPOC, “Black Goose” runs its production as equally vibrantly, letting every drum, flute, and wailing electronic come at you like an unforgettable attack. “Vacation” takes in a great Top 40 sound with Ragu’s emotive vocal runs, letting a track that could easily just be a brash excuse for fun lyrics become an evocative space for Ragu to show urgency and a knack for powerful writing.