Following a critically acclaimed self-titled debut that has seen over 90,000 copies sold, two years of exclusively sold out shows and performances on prestigious US shows with Conan O’Brien and Jimmy Fallon, Sylvan Esso returned late last year with two new singles. ‘Radio’ and ‘Kick Jump Twist’ already each boast millions of streams and multiple weeks on the BBC Radio 6 Music A-list for ‘Kick Jump Twist’, marking a formidable comeback from a band who refuse to lose momentum.
As they approached their sold out (in a couple of hours) Village Underground show in May along with sold out shows in Berlin and Paris, Sylvan Esso shared a Machinedrum remix of ‘Kick Jump Twist’. With the infectious synths and distinctive vocal acrobatics of the original ramped up, distorted and sent echoing into the void, the remix chops and warps Sylvan Esso into a unique new realm, with a sophomore album to follow later this year.
I think I may have lost track of what’s cool. The Sunrise Arena is full, and I thought I was being all edgy choosing this band! They know the words and everything!
A pretty cool friend of mine asked me what I was going to see next. I told them:
“What’re they like then?”
“Er, they’re kind of like happy electronic dance music but it somehow feels really indie.”
“Yeah. Wanna come?”
“Nah, I’m good, thanks.”
And that is how easy it is to make a bad decision! Be careful out there kids!
Anyway, my preview was pretty spot on to be honest. That’s exactly what this is like. Sylvan Esso consist of Amelia Meath (who is a bloody awesome dancer and right now has about a thousand people in love with her), and Nick Sanborn (who, truth be told, is probably working harder given that he’s producing all of this music). They work amazingly well together.
A lot of the music I really love is, if I’m honest, quite intellectualised. I often wonder why, for example, all these people weren’t here dancing like this for Esben & the Witch. But when I see this I feel monstrously out of touch. Of course people love this! It’s so happy!
Meath is absolutely compelling, her un-self-conscious dancing and earthy voice disarming the most cynical critics (me). The funky, bass-heavy beats are pure, upbeat joy. It’s like they’ve brought the sunshine and put it all in one place. Everybody here is dancing. It’s just lovely!
This is what happens when a band finds their crowd. I know this music won’t feel like this at home. Truth be told I don’t really like them very much at all on record. The unearthly amount of bass helps! It only feels like this right now, in this tent, in this moment. Because we’re all united by just the right collective consciousness at just the right moment. This is alchemy. It’s what I do this for. It’s what I wait for, and turn up to random bands I’ve never heard of just in case for. It’s what people are looking for when they take drugs. It feels just like that (if you don’t count two red wines and an export lager, at least).
Meath makes us all howl like a pack of wolves. And we do. Happily. It’s just wonderful. And finally, for the first time this weekend, I can just let go and dance like a prick!
Sanborn (Nick? Can I call you Nick? I feel like I can Nick!) struts behind his bank of electronica, unable to keep the beat from any part of his body. The crowd all clap, cheer and dance together, feeling our spines contort with his.
It’s so hard to sum up something like this. This was absolutely magical, melting away even my hard-won cynicism. This is the cheesiest thing I’m going to do for a very long time, but I’m going to do it anyway. Because I can’t describe the joy here, Meath’s beaming grin at the end of every track really did speak a thousand words!