“Digging for Gold”, the first track on Emeralds, is based not on guitar but on electric piano. But, after 30 years of wringing lush, heavily textured soundscapes out of guitars and effects pedals, Robin Guthrie is not about to change his stripes. Emeralds is basically more of the same, though it’s more focused and affecting than some of his recent efforts.
“Wishing” is an uplifting pop song played in the clouds, while tracks like “The Blue Book” have a more glacial, orchestral feel. Guthrie has a thing about burying the drums in his mixes, and Emeralds is no different. But the album still sounds warm and cozy. It’s like an instrumental album from Guthrie’s former band, Cocteau Twins. And that means Emeralds’ beauty makes you long for a complementary vocalist like the Cocteaus’ Liz Fraser all the more.