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 four albums: 2012’s Creature of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue and 2018’s Slow Air.
The London-based JOVM mainstays’ fifth album The Last Exit is slated for release next Friday through the duo’s Wrecking Light Records. Sonically, the album reportedly continues where its predecessor Slow Air left off — 11 songs centered around shimmering and carefully crafted arrangements of organic instrumentation paired with Tessa Murray’s smoky crooning. Thematically, the album takes the listener of a hypnotic and mesmerizing journey filled with dilapidated and long-abandoned towns, mysterious shapes on the horizon and long trips that blur the lines 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.
Unsurprisingly, the album’s material 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.
Last year, I wrote about two of the album’s previously released singles:
“The Last Exit,” a cinematic track that sounds like it could have been part of the Slow Air sessions while nodding at Ennio Morricone soundtracks as it evokes large and indifferent skies and dusty, two-lane blacktop baking in the sun.
“Crying,” which was written during pandemic-related shutdowns and quarantines and captures the uncertainty, boredom, loneliness, heartache and regrets of not having much to do or anyplace to go — and obsessively neurotic self-examination inspired by those endless, lonely hours. And while continuing in the vein of Slow Air, the track also nods at Strange Pleasures.
“White Sands,” The Last Exit’s third and latest single is a classic, ghost story of a phantom who roams the dunes and desert highways for eternity, frightening travelers and drifters, who pass her. The track is a fittingly cinematic track centered around glistening atmospherics, shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, a rapid-fire beat paired with Murray’s wistful and achingly melancholy crooning. Much like the material on Slow Air, “White Sands” is a brooding yet breathtakingly gorgeous song that evokes long and silent drives through nothing much but your own thoughts and regrets.
The JOVM mainstays released a gorgeous and cinematic lyric video for “White Sands” shot in the desert, with Murray superimposed as a spectral vision just over the horizon. The visual also feature the song’s lyrics in English and translated in Spanish.