London-based dream pop act and JOVM mainstays Still Corners — vocalist and keyboardist Tessa Murray and multi-instrumentalist, producer and songwriter Greg Hughes — have managed to bounce between chilly and atmospheric pop and shimmering guitar-driven, desert noir through the release of five albums: 2012’s Creatures of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue, 2018’s Slow Air and last year’s The Last Exit.
The Last Exit continued where its predecessor left off with 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements featuring organic instrumentation paired with Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, the album took the listener through a hypnotic and mesmerizing journey filled with dilapidated and long-abandoned towns, mysterious shapes appearing on the horizon and long trips that blur the lines between what’s there and not there.
Understandably, the album’s material was brought into further focus as a result of last year’s 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 explained in press notes for the album. “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.
Serving as the immediate follow-up to The Last Exit, the duo’s latest single “Heavy Days” is a propulsive and uptempo bop featuring twinkling synth arpeggios, a chugging motorik-like groove, shimmering Western-tinged guitars and a soaring hook paired with Murray’s imitable smoky vocals. Sonically “Heavy Days” finds the duo retaining the beloved elements of their overall sound — but while seemingly drawing from 80s pop.
Interestingly, despite the literal weight of it’s title “Heavy Days” may be the most optimistic and sunny song of the JOVM mainstays’ growing catalog. “Sometimes it all feels like too much, there’s a lot to take in reading the news all the time,” Still Corners’ Tessa Murray says in press notes. “We wanted to write a reminder to put the phone down now and again and get out there and live life to the fullest while you can.”