Single Review: Sylvan Esso – Radio / Kick Jump Twist

By on Wednesday, 23rd November 2016 at 12:00 pm
 

Header photo by Shervin Lainez

In a surprise appearance at SXSW 2016, American electropop duo Sylvan Esso teased an ecstatic audience with the possibility of new music before the end of the year. It turns out, the charmingly eclectic pair are as good as their word. In August, they released a new single called ‘Radio’, and last week they followed it with the b-side to the 12” vinyl release of ‘Radio’, titled ‘Kick Jump Twist’.

Sylvan Esso seems to have suffered a bit of an existential crisis in the hypnotically groovy ‘Radio’. Singer Amelia Meath mocks herself mercilessly in the second verse lines, “singin’ I’ve got the moves of a TV queen / folk girl hero in a magazine / faking the truth in a new pop song / don’t you wanna sing along?” Nick Sanborn’s trippy backbeats under the song’s chorus are so irresistibly hooky that you almost miss the derisive tone in the lyrics. “Slave to the radio / three point three-oh” apparently refers to the track’s running time, which precisely (and probably not coincidentally) fits the conventional radio-prescribed length of three minutes and thirty seconds.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/6LEmDEZVa5g[/youtube]

B-side ‘Kick Jump Twist’ is more abstractly electronic and only slightly less lyrically sardonic than its radio-single flip. Meath’s silky vocal melody in the chorus lyric “they want all the invisible eyes on them” keeps the track musically grounded while Sanborn’s synthesised rhythms deviate from the radio-friendly path to explore broader swaths of uncharted sonic territory.

[youtube]https://youtu.be/GYeGMw21fgM[/youtube]

Above all else, this new double-sided single lays to rest any lingering questions about how Sylvan Esso might sustain the unusual combination of folk singer and EDM producer beyond one popular debut album. If these two new tracks are any indication, Sylvan Esso have taken a decidedly edgy and bravely expansive musical turn without abandoning the vocal lyricism and fundamental dance groove that initially charmed their audiences.

9/10

Sylvan Esso’s new double-sided single ‘Radio / Kick Jump Twist’ is available now from Loma Vista Recordings. For more on TGTF on the duo, go here.

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