The first single from Emanuel and the Fear's upcoming third LP, Primitive Smile, is a charming and intricate slice of romantic synthpop.
Defining itself as “a collective of musicians with backgrounds in contemporary classical, metal, jazz, and folk music, all who happen to play rock music [sic]”, Brooklyn outfit Emanuel and the Fear (led by Emanuel Ayvas) proved to be an incredibly eclectic, skillful, and striving troupe on its previous two LPs, Listen (2010) and The Janus Mirror (2013). Channeling the instrumental prowess and/or symphonic melodic grip of ELO, Frank Zappa, and the Dear Hunter (among many other diverse acts), the group always takes its listeners to unexpected places while also maintaining certain distinctive traits. Fortunately, both expectations are met on “Meredith”, the first single from their upcoming third studio album, Primitive Smile.
Apparently, the new record was inspired by the following Igor Stravinsky sentiment: "My freedom thus consists in my moving about within the narrow frame that I have assigned to myself for each one of my undertakings. I shall go even further: my freedom will be so much the greater and more meaningful the more narrowly I limit my field of action and the more I surround myself with obstacles. Whatever diminishes constraint diminishes strength. The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the claims that shackle the spirit."
“Simple and refined, with every note and every beat having a purpose," Primitive Smile finds the band delving further than ever into a balance between “their own eclectic and unique perspective” and the constructs of formulaic pop music (“the verse, the repeating chorus, [and] the single bridge”). In particular, “Meredith” alludes to a more synth pop grounding, so while the band’s forceful harmonies, orchestral flourishes, and positive vibe are still in place, longtime listeners will notice a relatively streamlined and programmed vision as well.
No matter how they channel it, though, Emanuel and the Fear always delivers the multilayered romantic charm, and “Meredith” is a fine sample of what’s to come once Primitive Smile is released in a few months.