Over in the UK, a renaissance in electronic music is happening. Pigeonholing the cinematic affairs of Phoria, Maribou State, and London Grammar within the genre, though, would be a disservice to their creativity and innovation. Some call it alternative, but post-rock indietronica pop is a more fitting categorization. Another band making some of the most gorgeous and breathtaking music are Dahlia Sleeps.
For nearly three years, the London-based quartet have received praise for their gift of making captivation an art form, including from DIY and Pigeons and Planes. Each single has left listeners entranced by their beautiful spells, leading to a dedicated following on both sides of the pond. Finally on Friday, Lucy Hill, Luke Hester, Spencer Buckley, and Callum Sharp released their debut EP, After It All.
Four of the tracks have already been released. Hearing them together within a single record, however, only reinforces the opinion many, including ourselves, have about Dahlia Sleeps – their talents and music are awe-inspiring. The records commences with “Rise”, which drips with stunning sensuality. The engrossing production work and the unexpected guitar burst are gorgeously executed while Hill’s lush vocals take the song to further heights. It is stunning in more ways than the music, though, as Hill conveys a powerful message. Recalling an experience as she was, as she said, “in the early states of coming out”, a young man told her she must have been abused to “turn out that way”. The number, as such, encourages people to not be afraid to be themselves. To not be afraid of those who don’t and often refuse to understand.
On “Only You”, Hill sings, “You make my bones weak”, which also describes the track’s effect. It is a multi-dimensional, multi-sensory experience that lingers for hours if not days. Hill’s lush vocals penetrate deep into the soul, and her words grab hold of one’s heart. Elements of contemporary R&B and classical music (the stirring strings are fantastic additions) are fused with modern electronica to form a spellbinding environment. A rich soundscape that allows for “crazy dreams (to) fill our head.”
Dahlia Sleeps expand on their art with the tantalizing “Lost & Found”. The song commences as another mesmerizing number, but it becomes a pulsating, electro-disco tune a few seconds later. Throughout the track’s peaks and valleys, Hill takes us on a wonderful journey about love and unity. She tells us that, “nobody loves you the way I do”, which is a message that transcends even platonic love. A solemn mystery, meanwhile, fills the air on “Blackout”. As the terrific piano composition drives the song, Hill’s emotive vocals heighten its beautiful blackness. She longingly sings, “Why does it come to me in the darkness when I’m alone in the night that has taken over me?” Pain drips from each word, as she re-lives the experience of losing someone.
Even when the band strips music back to its most basic components, they still find a way to leave one in utter awe. With “Breathe”, simplicity and subtlety rule, yet the minimalist arrangement is astounding. The song sounds like the most intimate late-night drive – calm, uncertain, and alone. Hill’s voice is full of desperation, as she tries to understand a former partner’s feeling. As she tries to unlock the mystery behind the woman she dances in front of her.
The EP comes to a close with a remix of “Rise”. With rising DJ and producer Roseau at the helm, the seductive number is turned into an alt-pop stunner. It’s a bit grittier yet still tantalizing as the original since Hill’s vocals still shine. The remix also shows that no matter how one of reinterprets Dahlia Sleeps’ music, their engrossing and cinematic allure will always remain. And that’s a rare and powerful gift. Then again, Dahlia Sleeps are not like any other band, and After It All isn’t just another EP. It is one of the most beautiful, immersive, and seductive records of the year.
After It All is out now on Olympia Records.
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