tue 22/08/2017

CD: Emmy the Great - Second Love | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Emmy the Great - Second Love

CD: Emmy the Great - Second Love

Third album sees London songwriter dabble in swoony electronica

Second Love, but no happy endings for Emmy the Great

The answers, for the listener curious as to whether Emmy the Great’s Second Love fared any better than her first (it’s the title of her 2009 debut as much as any reference to the songwriter’s psyche), do not emerge until its final track. “Once I was a flight risk,” Emma-Lee Moss sings softly, almost swooning, “but soon I think I will be safe … Let me get lost in you”. Which sounds as close as one gets to a happy ending, until the lyric changes with the second verse to “I wish I was a flight risk”.

It’s been five years since Moss’s last album proper: five years in which the Londoner moved to LA and New York and back again, and released a Christmas album with Tim Wheeler of Ash containing a song called “Jesus the Reindeer”. Virtue was, of course, a heavier record than intended, at its centre a song which used her home city’s Brutalist architecture as a metaphor for a fiancé who left her for religion. So if the Emmy the Great of Second Love remains untrusting and a little introspective, it's only to be expected, and hardly objectionable when she swirls those emotions in ethereal and increasingly electronic sounds to turn the banal into the beautiful.

“Swimming Pool”, the 2014 ‘comeback’ single which opens the album, turns out to set a pattern: a picture of a lover formed out of abstract lyrics; a dreamy, modern sound; Tom Fleming of Wild Beasts’ voice part-bass line, part-caress. The contentment it signals may be fleeting – “Algorithm” and the glitchy, but surprisingly warm, “Dance w Me” take a far dimmer view of the opposite sex – but it’s a very sexy song.

The atmospheric production and experimental sound collages – Moss goes as far as to weave the background noise of her friends’ conversations into the finished product – might make this a less immediate listen than previous Emmy the Great albums, but the lyrical flourishes remain. “Phoenixes” is a homage to long-term friendship woven from teen magazines, movie stars and half the piano riff from Taylor Swift’s “Love Story”, while the portrait of LA cafe culture (“where the drinks cost more than music”) in “Hyperlink” is vivid and lingering.

If the Emmy the Great of 'Second Love' remains untrusting and a little introspective, it's only to be expected

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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