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 five full-length albums: 2012’s Creatures of an Hour, 2013’s Strange Pleasures, 2016’s Dead Blue, 2018’s Slow Air and 2020’s The Last Exit.
The Last Exit continued where its immediate 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.
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 explained in press notes for The Last Exit. “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.
Late last year, the JOVM mainstays released “Heavy Days,” a propulsive and uptempo bop featuring twinkling synth arpeggios, a chugging motorik groove, shimmering and reverb drenched guitars and a soaring hook paired with Murray’s smoky vocals. In many ways, “Heavy Days” could be seen as a synthesis of Dead Blue, Slow Air and The Last Exit.
Despite the literal weight of its title, “Heavy Days” may arguably be one of the more optimistic and sunnier songs of the duo’s 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 said 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.”
The JOVM mainstays latest single “Far Rider” sees the duo returning to the sound of Slow Air and The Last Exit: shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar twang, a steady and propulsive rhythm and Murray’s imitably smoky vocals placed within an expansive and mind-bending song structure that’s roomy enough for a lengthy and hallucinogenic guitar solo and gently oscillating synths. At one point, Murray’s own vocal is sampled, distorted and layered into the mix to add to the dream-like vibe. Much like their last two albums, “Far Rider” evokes the lingering ghosts, regret and old memories conjured up on lonely drives meant to clear your head — or to redeem yourself.
“This song is about leaving, lost love and finding yourself somewhere on the journey, really it’s about redemption,” Still Corners Tessa Murray explains. I recently drove 6000 miles across the southwest to feel the sun on my face and think. We used the dreamlike nature of the song to capture the landscape and a hypnotic feel to conjure up the long and lonely travel days.”
Primarily shot in the New Mexico desert during “Golden Hour,” the accompanying video for “Far Rider” follows a lone and weary traveler walking across the sandy dunes trying to forget a lost love or a escaping from a past that’s best forgotten forever. The dream-like nature of the song is emphasized with trippy effects.
“We filmed this video during a 6000 mile trip to New Mexico. We did it all on a handheld camera. Most of the time we would drive way out to a spot and have to wait until the light was right, the golden hour etc.,” Still Corners’ Tessa Murray explains. ” One of the places we went to was White Sands and we spent ages sitting in a sand dune in the shade waiting for the light to change. The sand is pure white gypsum so reflects the sun to such a degree it’s completely blinding. The good thing is the sun takes a while to set so you have about 30 minutes of beautiful light. We only had one problem, all the sand dunes look very similar, there’s really no landmarks so as it became dark we got completely lost on the way back to the car, it was a little scary but we made it. We love how it turned out, it captures the vibe of the song perfectly.”