Sylvan Esso's
Album reviews
Artist:
Sylvan Esso
Album:
What Now
Release year:
2017
Label:
Loma Vista
23 May 2017 / by Nicole Di Donato (author)

Sylvan Esso’s second album What Now is an electronic pop enthusiast’s dream come true.

Hailing from Durham, North Carolina, the duo formed in 2013 and has been creating catchy, unforgettable music ever since - their latest album being the perfect example.

The combination of Amelia Meath’s soft, sweet vocals and producer Nick Sanborn’s infectious synth beats, makes for an album that you’re sure to keep on repeat all summer long.

What Now has something for everyone - from tragic, haunting love songs (“Die Young”) to slower, stripped back tracks (“Slack Jaw”), and everything in between. 

Kicking off What Now is “Sound,” a muffled, echoey tune with repetitive lyrics. The entire song repeats the same verse which starts with “I was gonna write a song for you” and ends with “All you’ll be is sound.”

Despite the album’s uplifting beats, the lyrics are quite complex and meaningful, taking a cynical view of the world. Many songs on the album explore how technology has influenced our lives and the ways in which we connect with others. “Signal” in specific is about how life mimics technology and vice versa, describing a “Little birdie making car alarm sounds.” The song is accompanied by sugary synths and tight electronic beats. 

Staying true to the electronic pop genre, Sylvan Esso’s songs “Kick Jump Twist, “Song” and “Just Dancing” beg the listener to get up off their feet and start dancing. Each song has quick beats and catchy lyrics that you can't help but sing along to. 

The single off the album, “Radio,” appears to be about the pressure of writing a pop song that is worthy of being on the radio. The song comes off as a parody with the chorus repeating “Slave to the radio.” My favourite lyric in the song is at the end of the second verse when Meath sings “Faking the truth in a new pop song / Don’t you wanna sing along?”

Wrapping up the album is “Rewind,” a slower track that is about building your personality from the media you consume. 

Being a longtime Sylvan Esso fan, I couldn’t have asked for a better follow-up to their 2014 self-titled debut album.

If you’re a fan of indie pop and electronic pop, I suggest you check out Sylvan Esso’s What Now. Start with “Radio,” “Signal” and “Die Young.”  

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The author

Nicole Di Donato

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