It seems that, although it is a genre that has never really been far away from the mainstream, synth-pop is undergoing something of a renaissance this year.
After a tricky 2017 that saw different strands of alternative music take centre stage for the most part, we find ourselves being treated to exceptional releases from old favourites - step forward CHVRCHES - as well as welcome offerings from less-established artists, finally delivering on their potential.
Half Waif, the Nandi Rose Plunkett spearheaded New York-based trio, very much fall into the latter category with their fuzzy-yet-pristine new album ‘Lavender’. A record as much about the ineptitude of familial structures as it is about the current political landscape of the West, it is fair to say that all of the layers that are intricately laced within this record take a few listens to fully reveal themselves.
Initially, tracks like ‘Torches’, ‘Keep It Out’ and ‘Salt Candy’ are the ones that pique a listener’s interest. Their slow, rumbling synths and fluidly-structured beats create an unusually warm atmosphere that so many synth-heavy albums are unable to match.
Once you are familiar with the record, mid-album tracks such as ‘In The Evening’ and ‘Silt’, in particular, begin to uncover the deeper side to the band’s work, focusing both on where personal relationships of lead singer Nandi Rose Plunkett have been and also, where they are headed. The quieter, less complex compositions - ‘Back In Brooklyn’ and ‘Leveler’, for example - carry less clout, even upon revisiting, but for the most part, this record is a seamlessly beautiful and intoxicating affair.
Worthy of comparison to the late career stylings of Björk, Plunkett’s vocals often steal the limelight but, make no mistake, this album is considerably more than the sum of any individual part.
Words: Mike Watkins
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