Avalon Emerson & the Charm, the new album from the artist, sees Avalon Emerson making a dramatic stylistic shift, pivoting from techno-laced dance music to gossamer dream-pop/electro-pop textures.
Although as a whole & the Charm represents a substantial sonic change, it was foreshadowed in 2020, when Emerson began her mix album, DJ-Kicks, with The Magnetic Fields’ “Long Forgotten-Fairytale,” revealing her singing voice for the first time.
In an interview with Philip Sherburne at Pitchfork, Emerson explains how she came to start making music and DJing in San Francisco. “I don’t want to say that my desire to make pop music came out of any negative sense, like, ‘I don’t like dance music anymore.’,” she said. “I still love it, and I still get inspired by it. Admittedly, that happens less and less nowadays, but it’s still a part of me.”
Embracing nine tracks, entry points include the deliciously shimmering “Sandrail Silhouette,” traveling on jangly-lite guitars atop a low-slung, undulating rhythm as Emerson’s dreamy vocals imbue the lyrics with pensive tones.
A personal favorite because of its trembling flow and syncopated rhythm, “Entombed In Ice,” offers vague hints of industrial savors merged with electro-pop surfaces. Delicate and diaphanous, Emerson’s voice infuses the lyrics with lush veneers of coloration.
A plump, rounded bassline provides the essential rhythmic pulse for “Astrology Poisoning,” which rolls out on lustrous leitmotifs as Emerson’s vocals give the tune a soft, breathy feel, at once luminous and gently evocative.
Brimming with indulgent, echoing resonance, “Dreamliner” features a percolating rhythm crowned by shiny, buoyant accents. Blending aromas of electro-pop and vague tints of dance music, the song glimmers with subdued dynamics.
Riding a popping, burbling rhythm, “Karaoke Song” vibrates with spluttering motion, imbuing the harmonics with a quivering allure as Emerson’s crystalline timbres glide overhead.
Filled with thick, hazy surfaces of shoegaze and dream-pop, “A Dam Will Always Divide” projects a wash of ethereal, murmuring tones, elusive and flickering, while Emerson’s ghostly, haunted vocals instill the lyrics with silky, translucent timbres.
Drenched in tinctures of melancholy and musing hues, Avalon Emerson & the Charm is singularly imaginative and oh-so-intoxicating.