Semi Precious is the brainchild of Southeast London musician Guy Baron, who released a well-received self-titled debut EP last year. He’s now following that up with When We Talk, a new collaboration with acclaimed producer Matthew Herbert that aims at creating short bedroom pop vignettes that explore the dreamier, more pop-oriented side of electronic music.
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Annie Galvin: Jordy Asher, the erstwhile Blonds frontman currently known as Boots, emerged from a relatively shadowy corner of the music industry into a massive spotlight in 2013, thanks to his substantial writing and producing work on Beyoncé‘s self-titled album. The imprimatur he left on the Fifty Shades of Grey trailer, a slowed-down remix of Queen Bey’s “Crazy in Love”, further clarified Boots’s sonic hallmarks: minor-key melodies, R&B vocals contributed by the likes of Kelela and Sia, sludgy mixes punctuated by periodic face-slapping synths. “Acquaria”, the lead single for Boots’s upcoming début LP, gets a little spacey, building around a clapping trap beat, swirling vocals by Dirty Projectors singer Deradoorian, and some X-Files-esque high-pitched whirrs. The notable injunction “shake like a gamma ray” encapsulates the song’s intertwined thematic strands: a doomed booty call and some seriously apocalyptic concerns about planetary decay, sinking cities, and “lay[ing] pipe on Mars”. Time signatures tangle on the chorus and then fall back into place—a move that epitomizes Boots’s trademark balance between chaos and order that never borders on boring. [8/10]
The best thing about good powerpop is the immediacy of its rewards. When a musician totally nails a powerpop tune, it connects instantly, which is exactly what happens on Shane Tutmarc‘s wonderfully humorous new single “So Hard to Make an Easy Getaway”, which brilliantly echoes classic Nick Lowe in both lyrical wit and infectious melody.
Eric Risch: Incorporating the American insouciance of Pavement with his native British stoicism, Bill Ryder-Jones, former lead guitarist from the Coral, abides on “Two to Birkenhead”. With a detached delivery and jaunty guitar tone, Ryder-Jones tempers the angst of garage rock without abdicating its potency. [7/10]