Album Reviews: Still Corners, Survival, Nora Malone

Impressive chillwave, divergent solo project from Liturgy leader and a quiet, romantic local release

Still Corners – Strange Pleasures
Sub Pop
The warm, languid chill that made Still Corners’ debut album so captivating (if ephemeral) is definitely still in full effect on the London duo’s follow-up, Strange Pleasures; but while Creatures of an Hour seemed like a capable band getting its head around a (somewhat derivative) sound, there’s far more confidence and poise on this latest album. Yes, the Beach-House-but-with-more-synths vibe still prevails, but it’s on epic, skyscraping numbers like “Future Age” and the propulsive, New Wave-y “Beatcity.” Still Corners stake out their own territory, grafting their woozy, wispy approach to sturdy structures that manage to be beautiful and humane without being fragile and inconsequential. The glistening warmth of echo-laden, multi-tracked guitars and Tessa Murray’s full-bodied whisper of a singing voice contrast nicely with the crisply defined electronic keyboard/bass/drum programs, and the result is a sound that simultaneously provides a best-case example of what chillwave can be while flying right past the restrictions of that genre definition. – Jason Ferguson

Survival – Survival
Thrill Jockey
Hunter Hunt-Hendrix has made quite a name for himself, both for his willingness to expand the possibilities of a hidebound genre (black metal) with his band, Liturgy, and for his willingness to argue with anyone about the social, spiritual and civilizational ramifications of such expansions. Of course, now that he’s gotten everyone engaged with his mission (at least to the extent that we’ve all decided either that he is A Force for Good or a Mouthy Enemy of True Metal), this would be the perfect time for him to debut a brand-new band with a brand-new sound that has absolutely nothing to do with black metal. Although some motifs here are reminiscent of Liturgy, those likenesses mainly boil down to Hunt-Hendrix’s crushing and cyclical guitar style. Instead, the overall atmosphere here is much more transient and jam-oriented, with doses of granola-psychedelia (the acoustic touches of “Since Sun Revised”) and loping, jam-friendly metal grooves (“Triumph of the Good”). It’s a great pivot from his “main” band’s approach that manages to chart a new, more accessible course that doesn’t sacrifice any of the relentlessness or philosophical purity of Liturgy. – JF

Nora Malone – The Front Porch EP
independently released
Nora Malone quietly put out The Front Porch EP last month to share her odes to late nights and love tainted by bad timing. Malone plucks heart- and ukulele strings with relatable and haunting folk serenading. The rhythm of her baritone uke is a metronome for her low, rich whisper. She sings of anxiety, what New Year’s Eve feels like, and the life and death of infatuation. The unproduced quality of the collection adds authenticity to Malone’s storied songs – they are personally addressed and sealed with a kiss. Compelled by what she couldn’t say on the front porch, she spills her guts instead on each track. Even if her band, ÓH!Maoileoin, never puts out a full-length, these songs stand as testament to her talent for tunes for bitter new adults. The EP is fetching for those young ones who translate bad decisions into good stories and is a suggested listen for romantics waiting by the phone. – Billy Table