Sylvan Esso – “Die Young” (Singles Going Steady)

Sylvan Esso has a way of crafting sparse electropop gems with an easy, natural openness to them.

Andrew Paschal: The Durham, NC duo has a way of crafting sparse electropop gems with an easy, natural openness to them. “Die Young” is no exception, and places among their strongest efforts to date. Amelia Meath delivers memorable, almost folksy hooks without veering too far into the saccharine or hokey, as Sylvan Esso has at times done in the past. Not that the song doesn’t also have its own glaring darkness: I can’t decide whether I think it’s about actual suicide deferred by sudden love, or if Meath merely sings about faking her death to make a getaway and then having to scrap that plan too. I hope the latter; the airy “Die Young” would not quite do justice to a topic as weighty as suicide, and would come across in that case as a little emotionally manipulative. If nothing else, though, you can always choose simply to bask in the warm, synthy sunshine and ignore the irony. [7/10]

Steve Horowitz: Not that I would know this experientially, but dying young has always seemed stupid to me. Of course, the song discusses this in the past tense — the singer was going to die young and then, well, life goes on. It’s a catchy hook, nonetheless, and creates a bit of tension. The music loops on itself and suggests something new may happen and when the song just ends there is a sense of relief. The lack of melodrama is a plus. The dreaminess of the whole project is its greatest asset. [7/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: It’s not unusual for Sylvan Esso songs to start out a little slow. “Die Young” continues the tradition, and never picks up speed — but it’s not supposed to. Instead, the song builds at its base, adding foundational strength via synthesizer to brace Amelia Meath’s voice as the track goes on. There’s a physical resonance to those synths, with that quality that you can feel deep in your belly when they hit their heights, and an emotional resonance to the lyrics edged with a contradictory mix of loyalty and nihilism. The electronics never really go as far as they should, but Meath soars, and overall, it’s an enjoyable song. [7/10]

John Bergstrom: Nicely-produced indie-folk-tronica or whatever you want to call it. I guess it’s too smart and hip to be called mere “synthpop”. That’s what it sounds like to me, though, synthpop, but just a bit more aware of how cool it actually is. [7/10]

Paul Carr: The latest single from the band’s forthcoming album is the perfect anthem for those who don’t see the romanticism in doomed youth. Not so much “I hope I die before I get old” but more “I want to stick around to experience everything life has to offer as I get older”. The rudimentary beats and spacious synths evoke Roslyn Murphy’s solo work until the huge, full-fat synths rush out of the speakers. It has a delirious, anthemic chorus that eulogizes the simple joys of being alive. [7/10]

Scott Zuppardo: The beginning of this video reminds me of how much weight I really need to lose. Esso’s voice is impeccable and she has such a cool vibe to her even over retro house music. [8/10]

SCORE: 7.17