London-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have sonically bounced between chilly and atmospheric synth pop and shimmering guitar-driven desert noir through four albums: 2012’s Creature of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue and 2018’s Slow Air.
Slated for a January 22, 2021 release through Wrecking Light Records, the London-based JOVM mainstays’ fifth album The Last Exit sonically continues where its predecessor Slow Air left off — 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements of organic instrumentation and Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, The Last Exit takes the listener on a hypnotic journey filled with dilapidated and abandoned towns, mysterious shapes on the horizon and long trips that blur the line between what’s there and not there. “We found something out there in the desert – something in the vast landscapes that went on forever,” Greg Hughes says in press notes.
The album was brought into further focus as a result of pandemic-related lockdowns and quarantines. “There’s always something at the end of the road and for us it was this album. Our plans were put on hold – an album set for release, tours, video shoots, travel,” Tessa Murray explains. “We’d been touring nonstop for years, but we were forced to pause everything. We thought the album was finished but with the crisis found new inspiration and started writing again.” Three of the album’s songs — “Crying,” “Static,” and “‘Till We Meet Again” were written during this period and they reflect upon the profound impact of isolation and the human need for social contact and intimacy.
Earlier this year, I wrote about the album’s first single, album title track “The Last Exit.” Centered around a cinematic arrangement that evokes large, indifferent skies and dusty, two-lane blacktop, the track sounded as though it could have been part of the Slow Air sessions while subtly leaning towards the direction of Ennio Morricone soundtrack. “Crying,” The Last Exit’s second and latest single, was written during pandemic-related shutdowns and quarantines. The song captures the uncertainty, boredom, loneliness, heartache and regrets of endless hours of not having anything to really do or anyplace to go — and the obsessively neurotic and anxious self-examination of those endless hours. Centered around twinkling keys, shimmering synth arpeggios, shimmering strummed guitar, haunting whistling, Murray’s plaintive and ethereal cooing and a soaring hook. “Crying” sounds like the duo seamlessly meshed the sounds of Strange Pleasures with Slow Air.
Split between footage of Still Corners’ Murray spending time playing cards, reading books and drinking tea, we see the inevitable cycling of the seasons and the immensity of our planet moving through the universe. And while things may be uncertain and frightening, there are a handful of immutable facts: change is inevitable, the season change, we change.
“The only constant in life is change, this song is about a breakup during a difficult time but it’s also about coping with a fast-moving, uncertain world. Our video shows the immense universe and inevitable change of the seasons. Everything is in flux and that’s the only thing that is certain,” Still Corners’ Tessa Murray says of the new single and accompanying video.