Sidling up to you with the softest of electronic pop and R&B via some attachment to post-dubstep/meta-bass subsidiaries, Brooklynites Thomas Mullarney and Jacob Gossett stretch their arms wide to show they have a lot of love to give. Except everything’s in miniature, bringing music boxes into the studio to use as a metronome and reimagining the grace of its pirouetting ballerina. However tender and fresh-faced, the presence of an anonymous puppet master watching every move they make shows that beckoning for an embrace isn’t enough.
“Overseer” is that casual, smoke-blowing observer slash noxious voyeur, attempting to move the finger permanently pressed against the album’s lips by slipping in busy signals. Despite wanting to “separate the lies from the truth,” oddly it’s not a cold reception Beacon slink with. Given the construct, humidity is present throughout the softly-judged electronica, though “Late November” is art imitating climate and “Anthem” deals with a wintry air, revelling and revealing itself in low volume textures and enclosed, shadowy spaces. And despite when feelings are made to the contrary, the vocal delivery helps relax ears tricking you into thinking peace is always on the horizon (the assuaging “Studio Audience”).
This as much as anything gives the album its low insistence and quietly scheming coyness, making you worry about how amicable Beacon’s degrees of separation really are. Mullarney and Gossett scatter rose petals en route to the boudoir, but also leave the thorns in your wake.
File under: James Blake, The XX, Emika