It's been two years since the unlikely duo of wordsmith Amelia Meath and beat maker Nick Sanborn released their acclaimed self-titled debut, Sylvan Esso, a finely crafted indie-electronic hybrid to rival all others. Fast-forward to the release of What Now, and Sylvan Esso have produced another, more polished product: the band seem more surefooted, the vocals loftier, the production shinier, the audience (it's sure to attract) broader.
It's not an album you can just latch onto and absorb, though; What Now doesn't immediately draw you in like their self-titled debut did. It's poppier, sure, but to dismiss it as too formulaic would be to ignore all the album's nuances; tracks like "Sound," "Rewind" and "Slack Jaw" are sparse and subtle, their scaled-back soundscapes slowly blooming into soft reams of unobtrusive synths and off-kilter percussion, the sounds largely their own. Catchiest of all are the tongue-in-cheek "Die Young," on which Meath foregoes her planned demise due to the arrival of a new love, and "Kick Jump Twist," whose electro-heavy chorus and textured beat is easily the cornerstone of the album.
What Now is accessible in every sense of the word, but after several spins, it'll pull you much deeper than one might initially think.
Order What Now on vinyl here. (Loma Vista)