[17 April 2014]
PopMatters Associate Music Editor
Your Friend is the nom de plume for Lawrence, Kansas, native Taryn Blake Miller. Her debut EP, Jekyll / Hyde, was originally independently released in August 2013, but has since been snapped up by Domino and re-recorded in places to add new vocals and live drums. It’s interesting in that this refurbished version was initially released online (in February) before a physical CD and 12-inch release came into fruition. It would have been interesting to hear the original version and compare it to the new one, but, suffice to say, the new Jekyll / Hyde is an extended play that is sparse and airy in equal measure, with the music sounding remotely thin in places. It reminds me sometimes of St. Vincent, and, at other times, it reminds me a lot of Lady Lamb the Beekeeper. However, these six tracks work as a rather seamless experience, and there’s not a heck of a great deal of variation between them. That is either the EP’s greatest strength or its greatest failing, depending on your point of view.
“Bangs”, which opens the set, is actually something of a listless lullaby, until those live drums kick in and pummel the piece into submission. “Peach”, which follows, kind of sounds a bit like a slowed-down version of a Local Natives song, with its stick-on-stick drumming. “Pallet” is effectively melodramatic, with its lush Mellotron adding gravitas. “Tame One” may just very well be the most driving and forceful track to be found on this short album. However, the title track, while affecting in its own right, is kind of more of what came before, and is middling in its success as a result. Finally, “Expectation / Reality” (Miller has a thing for song titles with slashes, it seems) is again, cut from the same snail-like pace. Overall, the Jekyll / Hyde EP will appeal to those who like their music slow and quiet. There’s great beauty to be found here, though, and, despite its slight flaws, I would be quite happy, based on the goods she’s delivered, if Miller was indeed my own personal friend.