Still Corners: Strange pleasures (Sub Pop, 2013)

Morfeo´s Pleasures

Cuando todavía no nos hemos terminado de desperezar del letargo producido por el Ministry of Love de IO Echo, nos topamos de bruces con Strange pleasures, el segundo larga duración del ahora dúo británico Still Corners formado por Greg Hughes y Tessa Murray. Para la elaboración de Strange pleasures, la pareja ha decidido tomar un rumbo diferente al iniciado por Creatures of an hour, donde el ambiente que se respiraba era mucho más sano y purificador, más cercano a la Psicodelia.
Aquí, Greg y Tessa han tirado de viejos sintetizadores (empleados entre 1986 y 1991) y han variado sensiblemente el concepto. Ahora han decidido dar primacía a la electrónica más limpia y a sonidos mucho más puros, dando protagonismo a guitarras acústicas y cristalinas (Going back to strange, The trip) en aras de un Dream-Pop que, como dije al comienzo, nos transporta de nuevo a los brazos de Morfeo.
La tremenda languidez, llevada al abuso de la mayor parte de los temas; la falta de momentos brillantes, de aristas que echarse al oído, la falta de consistencia de su sonido, al basarse en sintetizadores y percusiones programadas…
Si me preguntas por algún momento brillante. Quizás Beatcity, The trip, Berlin lovers, por destacar algún tema.
Un disco que no creo que pase a la historia sino como uno más en la órbita del Dream-Pop elaborado por bandas como The XX, Beach House, M83… Igual para su tercer trabajo su sonido se semeja a… ¿lo sabes tú?


Dream-pop” should have an unlimited number of definitions. But it almost always describes records like Still Corners’ second album Strange Pleasures– records filled with swooning harmonies, lush reverb, and vaporous melodies that are fleeting if you don’t make a concerted effort to hold onto them.
If not terribly distinctive, Strange Pleasures nonetheless represents progress for Still Corners. Their 2011 Sub Pop debut Creatures of an Hour was rightfully likened to a post-chillwaveBroadcast, who themselves drew heavily from the psychedelia of previous decades. Two years later, the London duo are more of a modernist kind of nostalgia act, taking the night drive alongside contemporary breakthroughs such as Hurry Up, We’re DreamingTeen Dreamand especially Kill for Love— records with self-explanatory titles that infused dream-pop with either an overwhelming sense of the moment, sex appeal, or danger. It’s a welcome shift, though Still Corners are establishing a presence more than a personality. Including a song called “I Can’t Sleep” amidst all this downy pillow talk is sort of asking for it, yet the duo do about enough to evoke what might be keeping them up: neon city lights, cars roaring in the distance, their own desire for escape.
Still Corners present Strange Pleasures as something of a driving record, though the implication throughout is that it’s better if someone else is at the wheel. Opener “The Trip” is a six-minute pacesetter that savors the transit more than whatever impending arrival awaits, as its steady acoustic strums and cruise-controlled rhythm progress at a safe speed. Meanwhile, the miniature motoriks of “Beatcity” and “Berlin Lovers” obsess over German synth engineering, and “Midnight Drive” is even less covert about its influences, a four-minute audition for After Dark 3 that’s still a little too on-the-nose.
Otherwise, the rest of Strange Pleasures approaches the edge of palpable sadness rather than wallowing in its depths, demonstrating how “Beginning to Blue” makes a color into a verb: the near-constant harmonies are guided by an instinct for high thread-count layering rather than harmonic composition, and every synth line sounds like a pricier version of the “quasar” or “space” preset on toy Casios. It’s often quite pretty, but there’s still something of a void within this nebular atmosphere.
The two predominant textures of Strange Pleasures– ethereal gauze and smooth alabaster– don’t make much of an impression, nor offer much to grip onto. While Tessa Murray’s vocals remain breathy and mysterious throughout, that doesn’t mean they draw you in. The closer you get, the more you realize how beholden she is to stock images of oceans, doves, and deep breaths. And yet, “Fireflies” becomes the true standout of Strange Pleasures by unapologetically embracing these tropes rather than cloaking them. At the center of such an image-conscious LP, it’s a surprising indulgence, its romantic ideals unabashedly gooey and awestruck. It doesn’t just share a title with the Owl City song; try to guess which lyric belongs to which band: “Awake when I’m asleep/ Because my dreams are bursting at the seams;”“The night is long as we like/ All the innocents of youth and the fire light.”
Listening to Strange Pleasures, you’re reminded of why we invest so heavily in dreams to begin with: we want these passing fancies to have meaning, to be symbolic, to tell us something about ourselves. M83 or Beach House are able to create musical frameworks bigger than our own minds, something you can lose yourself in, to inspire waking dreams. Strange Pleasures works on a much more modest scale, content to subliminally scoot its way in, to serve as connective tissue between the Cocteau Twins and Chromatics on a mixtape, but not as the main attraction. It’s a pleasant listen of selfless, opaque indie-pop that still feels indulgent, proof that captivating made-up dreams are the work of compelling dreamers, or have some basis in reality. After all, no one wants to hear what you dreamt about unless you dreamt about them
” (Pitchfork)

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