Finding an anchor in your life is one of those inevitabilities that is constantly chattering away in the back of your head; you're trying to figure out where you should be and where you should stay. If your 20s are there to discover what you're doing with your life and which space on this planet is most homely to you, maybe your 30s are for sifting through the deluge of those years and finally finding your place. But then again, maybe not.
Emmy the Great, the moniker used by Emma-Lee Moss, moved from her hometown of London to the LA sunshine, but then traded LA for the east coast when LA became too comfortable. She previously referred to New York as a city that "brought me back to reality", and it was among these dramatic changes in her surroundings that Second Love was formed.
The original blueprint for Second Love was of an album that focused on the progression of technology in everyday life, something that Emma-Lee has written about before and touched on in her S EP. These ideas ultimately ended up being shelved when Emma-Lee realised she kept intuitively writing about love instead, and so Second Love was born.
There are a few different dimensions to Emma-Lee's third LP. It encompasses observations on modern life, a retrospective of teenage woes, and the surface-level appearance of optimism among gushing synths and breezy guitars with a latent darkness lurking. Nowhere is this more apparent than on "Shadowlawns", a world-weary opine bathed in Californian guitar licks that are chipping away at a dreamlike world that's falling to ruins. Even beaming sun is met with despondency ("Shadowlawns, same old sunshine"), with some haunting backing vocals giving an eerie tinge to the song. Emma-Lee's writing is, as always, at its finest when picking apart the remnants of a relationship.
Containing what is possibly the best lyrical reference to a Starbucks that you have yet to hear ("And then you walk me to the cafe/ Where the drinks cost more than music"), "Hyperlink" is a glowing collision of a life lived through technology and a doomed relationship, the same theme is also forms the basis of the euphoric whirr of "Constantly". With numerous pop culture references along the way, presumably formed in the early tech-focused stage of Second Love, it at points feels like a mix of slightly displaced chapters from the same book.
Leaving teenage years, and the friendships that fade with them, behind are married with lilting references to one of Hollywood's most famous families on "Phoenixes" ("River was your favourite/ His eyes were aqua"). It offers a temporary solitude from the weighty relationships that are explored on Second Love and is a sweet, shimmering high point on this album.
Ultimately, Second Love snatches glimpses of a world at different stages, going straight from careless teenage years to escaping into dreams. It's ethereal and shares more with Emma-Lee's 2009 debut First Love than last year's S EP, but still manages to work as a standalone album. The album closes with the quiet thrill of a piano mixed with electronic flourishes, with Emma-Lee making an admission: "When we let go of the shadows/ That's when I'm lost in you". Maybe when the deluge has been sifted through, this is the anchor that will be found. Nestled among the bouncy synths and twinkling guitars on Second Love, it doesn't seem like a bad reality after all.
Posted April 15, 2015, 9:51 a.m.
Emmy the Great has announced two Californian tour dates, and has released a Teleman remix of the lead single from her S EP, "Swimming Pool". The London-based singer-songwriter will play ...
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