Reviewed by: Lauren Rosier
Brooklyn-based experimental, electronic pop band, Young Magic, has always had a unique sound unlike anyone else. The duo’s latest record, Still Life, isn’t an exception.
The band’s current lineup of Indonesian-born Melati Malay and Australian Isaac Emmanuel met in New York City in 2010. The duo began creating music with then third member, Michael Italia, in 2011, and then released their debut full-length LP, Melt, in 2012.
Starting with their debut release, the band has recorded in various countries for each record, and the cultural influences are illustrated in their music through various unique instruments and different sounds.
On Still Life, the album really comes full circle, with the record opening and closing with versions of the track, “Valhalla.” Young Magic is a band of experimental sounds, multiple layers and textures of different cultural and musical influences from their international background and touring experience.
Malay experienced personal loss through the death of her father last year and traveled back to her home country to be with her family. Through this loss, she began working on the record during her time there.
Still Life represents that kind of loss and experience in an extremely haunting record. Young Magic combines skilled songwriting with electronic production on Still Life in a way that provokes an emotional response. The synths, strings, percussion, and vocals create a musical experience in a way I haven’t heard other bands create.
On “Valhalla,” the different layers, textures, and tones of percussion, synths, and electronics make for a truly emotional, psychedelic listening experience. It’s delicate, light, and airy, while otherworldly and psychedelic. Malay gently whispers: ‘Calling out to you in all directions’ and the track abruptly flows into the next track, “Lucien.”
“Sleep Now” is perhaps my favorite track on the record, featuring different textures of light percussion, synths, and Malay’s soft, ethereal vocals. The song title is fitting of the instrumentation of the track by creating a mellow, relaxed state perfect for falling asleep to or just simply relaxing.
On “IWY,” Malay calls out ‘I wanted you’ delicately structured over strings. The way the duo is able to delicately and specifically structure the textures and layers of the instruments is such an art form. This paired with the haunting, ethereal vocals of Malati Malay creates a truly out of body musical experience for the listener.