Album Review: Emmy the Great – Second Love

By on Tuesday, 5th April 2016 at 12:00 pm

There’s a certain quaintness to Emmy The Great’s third album. It gently works its way into your consciousness and dances around with an abundance of air and grace, which is impressive for an album whose lyrical content primarily concerns modern life and technology. Of course, this is to be expected from an artist who is essentially the British equivalent of Zooey Deschanel.

The first glimpse into this new effort was the single ’Swimming Pool’, featuring Tom Fleming (Wild Beasts) providing a tenor accompaniment to the chorus that sits wonderfully below Emmy’s heavenly vocals. The track is dreamy in every sense of the word, from the airy instrumentation to the choral backing vocals. It all flows rather nicely into second track ‘Less Than Three’. Here, the lyrical content is darker, harking to the time where you find yourself heartbroken by an instigator who is less than apologetic. She manages to squeeze every ounce of feeling from the words, and with the most innocent of cadences. The song travels along to an almost childish nursery rhyme rhythm.


One of the strongest weapons in Emmy the Great’s arsenal is her voice. She can reach angelic levels without sacrificing any of the power, which is entirely supportive of her lyricism that is often sweet with hyper-emotive tinges. Most impressively, she uses her lyrical talent to take classic situations such as romance and heartbreak and entwine them with modern phrasing and subjects, such as can be found in ‘Hyperlink’. On it, she takes us through the dating process where a partner “walks me to a cafe, where drinks cost more than music” that is filled with people “tapping keys where once they would read magazines”. The way she employs a poetic rhythm to the words just makes it all the more easier to fall in love with her lyricism.

Not forgetting the instrumentation, throughout the album there is always a mildly fresh sound, something to keep you interested. ‘Constantly’ could quite easily be a cut from a Vampire Weekend record, joyful and preppy but filled with power. ‘Dance W. Me’ takes a dance approach with its electronic beat and haunting backing vocals that are takes of Emmy’s housemates laughing and repeating “dance with me”. The important factor in the latter is the approachability it adds: it creates another dimension where you’re personally involved in the social scenario while seemingly feeling left out.

‘Second Love’ is certainly a powerful return for Emmy The Great. The emotion that is delivered is tender and raw: it almost renders you catatonic once it’s over. But then you suddenly feel glad, as if she’s sung every word you’ve never been able to convey. Only one factor that is missing from the album, and that is potentially a faster tempothat would create a roller coaster effect. Almost, where you’re complacent in your mental position when listening ‘til suddenly you’re picked up again, if but briefly, and then put back down. But then again, do we have the emotional capacity to handle it?


‘Second Love’ is out now on Bella Union. For more on Emmy the Great on TGTF, including her transformation from an anti-folk to electropop artist, go here.

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