Pearlies by Emma Anderson

Release date: October 20, 2023
Label: Sonic Cathedral

From the moment I first heard this record, it lit a flame of memory in me. Mostly this was about the impact of Lush on my musical tastes, and how they were at the forefront of shoegaze and dream pop. And I cannot forget that, for what did guitarist/vocalist Emma Anderson do? She put out this gorgeous solo album that is everything Lush could have been if they had stayed together. It also reveals how much Emma had to do with Lush’s overall sound. James Chapman (Maps) produced the album, which contains glimmers of electronica along with psych and dream pop. Chapman also contributes keyboards, synths and guitar, joined by Richard Oakes (Suede) on guitar. 

The opener ‘I Was Miles Away’ has groovy organ and reminds me the most of 2016 era Lush. The vocals are crystalline and the backing arrangements are an enchanting froth. I like the metronomic percussion marking off time as well. The stunning single ‘Bend the Round’ is equally fine and claims Serge Gainsbourg as one of its influences. This mesmerising musical haze is like a fine mist rising off the water as the sun burns through. ‘Interlight’ is moody, Lush-infused dream pop, a piece that by rights should adorn media content on the small screen. It offers a synth filled alternative to a barrage of guitars, and is suitably downbeat and creepy. Perhaps it is your next Halloween party soundtrack.

‘Taste the Air’ lands more on the kosmiche end of psych music, and once again I hear the possibilities of this being intended for Lush. I believe so, it is magical with bells and Emma’s ringing guitar drifting past in a dreamy slow wave, your perfect musical daydream. ‘The Presence’ is anchored more firmly to terra firma, a straightforward indie pop piece with a super catchy chorus and beautiful harmony vocals from Emma. The classy keyboard lines are icing on the cake. Wonderful!

‘Willow and Mallow’ is engaging folk rock, and continues the rainswept, autumnal feel of this record (never a bad thing). ‘Tonight Is Mine’ points more to minimal dance beats and billowing electronica, while ‘For a Moment’ is widescreen dream pop with a late 60s sheen. The final ‘Clusters’ is a fine ending to this great record, one that every fan of great indie pop music should check out and savour. This one tops my best of ‘23 list for sure.

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