Emmy the Great – S EP

S EPWe’ve been sat here trying to think of something nice to say about S, the new EP from London based artist Emmy the Great, for some time. It’s not been easy going.

Perhaps we should start at the beginning. The solo project of Emma Lee Moss has occupied a space close to our heart for a long, long time. She’s the light at the end of our musical tunnel, and her work to date means an awful lot to us. Yet we recognise she’s not the easiest of musicians to fall in love with. The release of her polished debut album First Love came as a shock following her more lo-fi and twee demos. Virtue practically flattened our hope of great things to come before quickly and impeccably reigniting our interest, and all within a single listen. Emma Lee Moss has a habit of shocking her audience, but when the blunt force trauma finally heals, she usually emerges triumphant in a flame of total submission.

That’s why, when lead demo “Swimming Pool” was released at the end of last year, we were more than willing to give her the benefit of the doubt. Sure, it’s different. Its slow, almost hollow atmosphere stands in stark contrast to the warm maturity of her previous material. Emmy’s vocal is decidedly pronounced and drawn out, in no reflection of the playful, melodic control she achieves on her sophomore album. The artist herself admits emotion is less of a focus on the EP, replaced by the influence of the physical places and countries she’s visited over the past few years. It was always safe to assume this record was going to take our heroine in a new direction.

We hoped, we prayed, it would not take this path. It seems our devotion has finally met its match in the form of a slightly tasteless 90s dance music influence. We say slightly because we’re being nice, and we can’t let go of the now distant hope that this S EP will suddenly click into place miraculously, without us having to listen to it too much in the meantime. There is no way of saying this lightly: it’s not very good.

“Swimming Pool” is by far the most accessible of the four tracks, while “Somerset” offers some redemption in the form of more conventional Emmy the Great fare. “Solar Panels” wins the title of the track least likely to snuggle up close to you at night. In fact it makes me want to punch my cat in the face. “Social Halo” sounds like something pre-2015 Emmy might have concocted while hungover and pissing around before breakfast, put on repeat to fill space. The EP is not only flat and emotionless, it's instrumentally inadequate.

If producers Ludwig Goransson (Haim) and Dave McCracken (Beyonce) were to have stripped away the Ministry of Sound keyboard, Cream-sprung synth and bloody annoying beats that run throughout S, they might have salvaged something tolerable from the wreck. They have not, and for that we hold them entirely responsible. Emmy, we’re going to pretend this never happened and put it to bed before our heart breaks. I'm going away now to cleanse my soul with Virtue.

Release: 27th January 2015, Bella Union

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