Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Show Preview: Sylvan Esso w/ The Human Eyes

Sylvan Esso will perform at Cat's Cradle on Friday
May 2 w/ The Human Eyes
For the past year, fans of the North Carolina music scene have likely had one band at the forefront of their minds, an unlikely pairing with origins in folk that have blown away all expectations with their dashing electronic arrangements. Sylvan Esso is still in many rights a young band, they've barely been together for over a year but you'd never know that judging by the rich definition of their sound. Vocalist Amelia Meath's enchanting vocals slide and sway in and out of the throbbing bass and skittering synths set forth by Nick Sanborn, creating a mystifying mix of sounds that feel made for each other. When the duo played Memorial Auditorium at Hopscotch last year, the bass felt encompassing enough to rattle the dangling chandelier while Meath's smooth vocals effortlessly cut through Sanborn's high-energy mixes. Since that Hopscotch date they've toured with the likes of Volcano Choir, Man Man and Tycho, and following the release of their self-titled debut on May 13 they'll hit the road with Tune-Yards for a full US tour. Receiving acclaim from Pitchfork, Stereogum, Consequence of Sound, Noisey and countless other outlets, it's clear that Sylvan Esso breezed right past the stage of being an underrated local and were thrust straight into the national limelight. But it's a much deserved co-sign from these esteemed publications, as their sound is unlike any other, it's an effortless mix of electronic pop standards tinged with Meath's twee-folk backgrounds and washed in Sanborn's hip-hop influenced blend of club bangin' beats and heady productions.

This Friday the duo will celebrate their album release at a sold-out Cat's Cradle, a night that's sure to be one of the year's highlights in terms of local outings. With fellow promising upstarts in The Human Eyes opening the evening, fans can expect a smooth transition from the low-key 80s inspired sad-pop into the riveting displays set forth by Sylvan Esso. The Human Eyes may have seemed an interesting pairing for those that first saw the lineup, but all it takes is a trip back to their 2012 release Guiding Eyes for the Blind to realize how excellent of a combination this is. Having a high-energy act that gets the crowd moving would have been a treat, but getting a dynamic lineup such as this one is just as, if not more, enjoyable. Songwriter Thomas Costello writes melancholy songs that tackle your standard sad-song topics, but conveys them with a light of beaming nostalgia. Tracks like "It's Not The Same Without You" display some downright downtrodden imagery, but they're delivered with the swagger of an upbeat Talking Heads tune. The juxtaposition of their lyrical focus and instrumentation makes for a set that'll surely be filled with some introspective bobbing and swaying all 'round, but hey that never hurt anybody. And quite frankly it's an excellent transition into the chest rattling, sometimes heartbreaking, tunes of Sylvan Esso.

Sylvan Esso's debut full-length is a concise collection of eclectic electronic tracks that range from the house-inspired "HSKT" to the dynamic sounds of "Dreamy Bruises" and "Could I Be." Tracks glide along with jittery synth lines before a crunching bass cuts through the mix, ducking in and out with kicks and hi-hats as Meath's vocals take center stage. Whether Meath is shouting out cat calls on opener "Hey Mami" or lamenting over our constant state of flux while calling out to the hanky panky on "Coffee," the band is sure to leave listeners as emotionally moved as they are physically. Thunderous bass and gorgeous croons make for a brilliant combination, one that will leave the hundreds in attendance at Cat's on Friday night shouting and swinging along long after the tunes have ended.

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