Just To Feel Anything
Once it kicks in, Emeralds' new disc might surprise those accustomed to the more gentle undulations of previous efforts. While there's more emphasis on Mark McGuire's crisp guitar work, the most obvious shift is the presence of a steady analog drum machine on roughly half the material. This newfound percussive propulsion recontextualizes their trademark glistening arpeggiating, variously offering nostalgic glances towards the experimental end of early synth pop, Manuel Göttsching's electro-Motorik classic, E2-E4, and even the dance music pioneers of Detroit and Chicago. The nearly nine-minute title cut is exemplary, marrying this fresh rhythmic sensibility to a utopian bubble bath of synth chirps and chimes. The other half of the album is more varied in tone, akin to the fleeting sketches of Eno's Another Green World. Where "Through & Through" presents soft-focus synth melancholy and "The Loser Keeps America Clean" unfolds as a dark smear of abstraction, the future pastoralism of the final track blossoms from a simple acoustic guitar figure into a bright, full-blown kosmische tone poem spanning eight minutes. It's wonderful to hear Emeralds exploring this new territory. While there are some audible growing pains, Just To Feel Anything holds a great deal of promise and first-rate material.
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