Comprised of Mountain Man’s Amelia Heath (vocals, synths) and Megafaun’s Nick Sanborn (synths, programming, production), the renowned indie electro pop electro pop duo Sylvan Esso have become JOVM mainstays and have dominated the rest of the blogosphere for a sound that’s radical departure for fans of Heath’s and Sanborn’s previous projects, as the duo have received attention for pairing Heath’s coquettish vocals with Sanborn’s slick, minimalist production featuring propulsive and undulating grooves, shimmering arpeggio synths and enormous, tweeter and woofer rocker beats.
If you had been frequenting this site around the end of last year, you’d likely recall that the duo released their “Radio”/”Jump Kick Start” single. “Radio,” a staple of their live sets and a fan favorite, revealed a brash, refinement of their sound as Heath has increasingly taken on a pop star persona — and as a result, her vocals contain a self-assured sultriness paired with Sanborn’s production taking on more of a dance floor/club-banger sound as arpeggio synths, wobbling low end and stuttering dum programming. “Jump Kick Start” the B side of the “Radio”/”Jump Kick Start” continues on a similar vein as the preceding single as Heath’s self-assured coos are paired with a stuttering and shuffling production featuring electronic bleeps and bloops, twinkling synths and analog crackling in what may be one of their most radio and dance floor-ready songs they’ve released to date. Interestingly, the “Radio”/”Jump” also managed to be a be a bit of a teaser for the sound fans and critics should expect to hear off the band’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort What Now.
Thematically, the album focuses on a critical question: where do we go now, as a culture when it feels as though everyone is standing at a precipice? And from the “Radio”/”Jump Kick Start” single, which interestingly enough are What Now’s first two singles, the material manages to possess the sort of urgency that many of us feel at this particular historical moment. Now, the album’s third and latest single “Die Young” is a moody, mid-tempo track that finds Heath’s self-assured vocals paired with a Sanborn production featuring enormous 808-style beats, stuttering drum programming, chopped and distorted vocal samples, swirling and ambient electronics in what may arguably be one of the duo’s more sobering songs; in fact, at various points, the song focuses on depression and uncertainty, the sense of every meaningful thing being fleeting and impermanent, that underneath every moment of short-lived joy, there’s a longer sense of anxiety over when that joy may end — or even if that moment of joy is worth it. It’s very much an adult song, grappling with the fact that life is usually complex, uncertain, confusing but in a moment in which everything feels upside down, backwards and reversed of not having a fucking clue as to what’s next; but knowing that you have to respond to the best of your abilities.
The recently released video follows the duo’s Amelia Heath stealing a distracted police officer’s car for a joy ride through the desert, where the video’s protagonist leaps off a cliff, presumably to kill herself — because she’s hopeless? because she’s lost her mind? The video leaves that interpretation up and what happens to our protagonist up to you.