Sylvan Esso - What Now
Sophomore albums have had a rough go of it in 2017. It is always hard, and critics love to focus on this, to take what took years to make in terms of a debut record and recreate that in a year or so for a second album. Sylvan Esso however have done it extremely well on this new album What Now. What Now seems to show the band looking at what a career in pop music is, or actually what in the hell pop music is. After the success of their first record the really artistic Sylvan Esso could have tried to just recreate that same bright pop but electronically influenced sound, but instead they pushed it further really testing the limits of what we could consider pop. Many of the lines on What Now are biting and critical about the genre while still using it to get their ideas across. The record becomes a really smart take rather than just some fun music to distract you. However, it is also just plain nice to listen too. When a band tries to go too artistic they usually end up alienating a lot of their audience if that is not a style that they have crafted from the beginning. Sylvan Esso are just that perfect blend of slightly experimental mixed with excellent pop that is just totally infectious for both the casual listener and the deep divers as well. "Kick Jump Twist" is probably the best example of this, changing shapes and beats throughout but still managing to be a catchy song.
What I personally enjoy about Sylvan Esso is how they always seem to start their songs at a deficit, then try to dig themselves out into something magical. "Just Dancing" begins odd, clunky and not all that exciting but as the track progresses it becomes so complex and so frantic that you cannot help but shake along with it. That anxious dancing vibe is such an underappreciated feeling in music, where the tension is so strained that exploding into dance is sometimes the only, and best option. "Die Young" is by far the most haunting track on the album chronicling what could be considered the bands own origin story of falling for someone while still with someone else. What Now doesn't really seem to be about having the answers for what comes next, but rather being open to whatever the future may hold and celebrating it regardless. Wise words we all should follow. What Now is a real achievement for Sylvan Esso and shows their debut was much more than just a flash in the pan. I cannot wait for what's next.
8.8 out of 10