Emily Gold – Reculse
Somewhat comparable to Lana Del Rey’s trail blazing, neo-gangster work on seminal albums Born to Die and Ultraviolence, British born artist Emily Gold and her bleak, pop confections will impress many on her new album Recluse. It’s that same, fleeting like heartbeat of a sound with grand arrangements mingling with pop structure, old school soul and modern rock influences. As a whole, Recluse is successful, even if it could use just the slightest amount of tempo variation.
First of all, there’s no hiding the fact that Emily Gold can sing and sing very well at that. Her voice is the sole highlight of the pop symphony opener “Drowning,” which delegates her backing band to playing as few notes as possible while she takes steady aim at the melodies with her wide open vocal chords. Simply put, the combination is out of the world even if the music could use a little dynamic buffering. That minor issue is fixed on the title track which blends rock with indie and r & b feel. Dave Burris busts out some electric guitar and the rhythmic grind is harder and more pronounced, lending twice the oomph to Gold’s hearty vocals.
“Cyanide Lollipop” is the definitive mixture of Emily Gold’s many ingredients. It possesses a bleary-eyed, dream-pop ramble that signals a storm with electric guitar riffs, wailing cupie doll vocals and acrobatic rhythms peppering the concoction with many tiny accents to catch on multiple listens. At its best, Recluse is an album so richly packed with subtle sounds, it’ll take a lot of time to discover them all. “Love Moves” is all soul wrapped up in a clubby package with simultaneous electronic and acoustic drums which makes for a noticeable dichotomy. Finger snaps, “whoa oh” vocal melodies and a plateau of rich crooning makes for an instant hit that remains energetic despite all of its opaque musings.
“Not from Here” makes tasteful use of piano, but sounds nearly identical to the opening track aside from that. By no means it is (or any of the songs) outright bad for that matter, but it does fall into a little samey-ness that detracts from the flow if only for a moment. Bringing a kinetic crunch back to the proceedings, “Out of Touch” is stuffed to the gills with walking bass lines and rising tides of insectoid guitar hum that sends this piece to some interplanetary heights. Emily shines on the verse and choruses; her voice low and sultry when it needs to be and reaching high up in her register whenever the music matches her moves. “Shadow” comes off as an unreleased track from Lana Del Rey and, though it has a strong, muscular rhythm, it’s a little slow and self-indulgent to really kick up the attention span.
The album’s final half really seals the deal though and makes Recluse worth spending the money on. Acoustic guitars bustle and teem during the intro of “Dizzy (Let Go)” where Emily plaintively contemplates putting trust in love as several soft rhythmic cadences and keyboard brush-strokes fill the downplayed music with life and light. Sweeping, anthemic English indie rock is delivered in spades on “Retrofitting”, a track that shows Gold hasn’t forgotten where she came from. It’s full of guitar static, oscillating beats n’ bass lines and several dynamic vocal cues that catapult Gold’s voice higher and higher. The moody delicacy of “Intangible” is mesmerizing in both its restrained arrangements and pushy bass rhythms. Emily’s lyrics paint poignant pictures such as “My narcotic heart, pacemaker God, please give me a pulse,” as she slowly ascends to a chorus that’s the romantic knockout of the album. “For the Night” bridges English indie shoegaze with hard-edged Seattle grooves and is the penultimate album ender. There is no denying it; Emily Gold is onto something with Recluse. A few tweaks to her songwriting will render unstoppable but she’s in more than fine form on these eleven lucid tracks.
8 out of 10 stars.