Still Corners – Strange Pleasures

written by: May 9, 2013
Album-art-for-Strange-Pleasures-by-Still-Corners Release Date: May 7, 2013


London-based band Still Corners has crafted diaphanous dream pop on its second effort, Strange Pleasures. Singer Tessa Murray’s voice is soft and airy, much like the legion of other female indie singers rising to popularity, including Grimes and Kazu Makino of Blonde Redhead. But Murray’s voice is more of a sensual whisper, lending the music to themes of loneliness and longing, all set to the soundtrack of a midnight drive. It’s M83, but less urgent.

Still Corners is following what seems to work for a number of other successful indie bands: female lead singers with tissue-thin voices singing romantic ballads that are labeled by others as “dream pop.” It’s one of the many sub-genres of music where everything in the category generally sounds the same, but differs subtly with each group. Still Corners is essentially dream pop, but with a romantic ’80s vibe.

Much like with its previous work, Creatures of an Hour, the band has continued to create its own John Hughes paradise, spilling beautiful melodies and synth pop rhythms over Murray’s breathy vocals. The lead single “Fireflies,” for example, is a delightfully catchy ode to mimicking pretty insects, providing the score for everyone’s inner Manic Pixie Dream Girl (or Guy).

Strange Pleasures is comprised mostly of synth anthems with a slow pace. However, Still Corners breaks out the acoustic guitar on what may be the saddest track of the album, “Going Back to Strange,” where Murray sings of “going back before it’s too late.” With added drowsy atmosphere just like the rest of the tracks, Murray effortlessly conveys heartbreak and deep emotion.

Shining as a true gem on the album is “I Can’t Sleep.” Murray sings over a minimal drum machine awash in atmospheric haze and melancholy as she longs for her lover, wondering whether she can slumber alone. It sympathizes with the lonely, but is still nearly as catchy as “Fireflies.”

The only thing that could potentially make Strange Pleasures  seem lackluster is its repetitiveness. Twelve tracks come and go, but nothing really changes.

Besides the use of an acoustic guitar on “Going Back to Strange,” the band employs a pretty general structure: the quiet/loud aesthetic famously used by the Pixies, a non-threatening synthesizer, strings on a few occasions, and paper thin vocals. Besides “Future Age,” which is probably the busiest song on an album filled with overt simplicity, Still Corners doesn’t seem reliant on too much left field-ness, preferring to keep up its predictable bliss.

“Beatcity” has the feel of a romantic midnight drive, which serves as the theme for the album, rife with romance, loneliness, and freedom. Still Corners seems to encourage the life code of being as liberated and happy as possible.

It’s a beautiful album; the music is lush and the vocals are breathtaking. The London-based band has successfully managed its own version of what American indie bands have easily attained in the dream pop genre. While the album certainly has potential with its sound, it lacks the little elements that push boundaries and keep it from being too stale.

Unfortunately, Strange Pleasures doesn’t contain a sound unique enough to distinguish it from other bands in the genre. It simply falls in line with the rest.

Still Corners – Strange Pleasures tracklist:

  1. “The Trip”
  2. “Beginning to Blue”
  3. “I Can’t Sleep”
  4. “All I Know”
  5. “Fireflies”
  6. “Berlin Lovers”
  7. “Future Age”
  8. “Going Back to Strange”
  9. “Beatcity”
  10. “Midnight Drive”
  11. “We Killed the Moonlight”
  12. “Strange Pleasures”