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

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.