What do you get when you mix Purity Ring with Fiona Apple? That’s a question most don’t ask, but Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn did. And boy was it a question worth answering.
Amelia Meath is the frontwoman of Mountain Man (it’s ironic and they’re folk, so you know they got mad hipster cred), while Nick Sanborn is the bassist for Megafun, a psychedelic folk band.
This is almost a surprising combination – who would think that folk vocals would think that folk vocals and electronic music would work so well together? But Sanborn’s beats are slow, pulsing, match perfectly with Meath’s soaring and almost mournful vocals that harmonize at just the right moments. The electronic crescendos are impressive; they both grab your attention and fade into the background into a deep, pleasant hum. They fade away almost completely at times, allowing Meath’s voice shine through, before coming in and lifting the entire song up far past anything each element could do on its own.
“Hey Mami” is a great example of this. The first half of the song sounds like a recording of a street performer, the din of the city faintly heard in the background as Meath casually sings. The lyrics are about a sexy girl who is the object of desire of all the guys in a most likely Hispanic district of New York, referencing an ass that draws the attention of all the boys she passes (not actual lyrics, but damn if that’s not a decent line). Her voice is strong and powerful, heartily belting out lines about bodegas and cat calls. Sanborn slowly begins adding claps, then bells, before finally coming with distorted electronics. While Purity Ring tends to aim for the glitchy, fast paced instrumentals, Sylvan Esso takes their time with more static notes, letting them linger, letting you absorb the sonic landscape as it gently floats by. They only exist to make the song bigger and bolder, a selfless act that has created an amazing piece of art.
So far, they only have a 2 song EP out, if you can even call it an EP. The vinyl has both the songs, along with the instrumentals and the accapella, so that’s cool, if you’re into remixing. You can also get the songs on iTunes and Amazon, if you’re a filthy casual who may or may not be into remixing
I’m usually very verbose, as any of my reviews can tell you, but Sylvan Esso has left me speechless. They don’t have much out right now, but I can see good things in their future, and I’m awaiting their next release. In the mean time, I'll just have to like this.