Keep Shelly in Athens: Now I’m Ready (4 stars)

Keep Shelly in Athens: Now I’m Ready

Delirious synth-pop follow up to a promising debut

Greece’s Keep Shelly Athens may have stayed relatively quiet for most of 2014, but the release of ‘Fractals’ towards the end of last year provided a bold and emphatic taster of what the duo’s next release may hold. It was the perfect way to whet the musical appetites of those that enjoyed their debut, At Home. As the lead single of upcoming second LP Now I’m Ready, ‘Fractals’ is not only a decent introduction, but also alludes to the technical maturity that the new album demonstrates overall.

With eight tracks, the LP is succinct though meticulous, traversing a number of different styles and genres while remaining somewhere within the realm of delirious synth-pop. Title track ‘Now I’m Ready’ blends RΠЯ’s artful production with Myrtha’s arresting vocals, which intensify gracefully as the musical landscape builds to a dramatic crescendo. Meanwhile, ‘Benighted’ is minimal but atmospheric, a far cry from ‘Silent Rain’ and ‘Nobody’, both of which are lightly melodic and more mid-tempo, featuring repetitive instrumentals and noticeable hooks.

Elsewhere on the album, clear electronic influences come through. ‘Line 4 (Orange)’ is subtle in its nod to dubstep, whereas the driving breakbeat in ‘Hollow Man’ takes centre stage beneath Myrtha’s reverb-soaked vocals. The highlight of the album though is final track ‘Hunter’, which acts as a culmination of every influence that comes before it. The ethereal guitar opening prepares you for a breezy and sublime dreamscape but as the track shifts suddenly halfway through, the music transforms into something much more suspense-driven. The duo’s ability to create and then reconstruct a simple feeling of calm to the point of uneasiness in a matter of six minutes is what makes them such a powerful force. And although Now I’m Ready is only their second LP, its diverse and often complex structure hints at KSIA’s overall strength and promising future as a two-piece.

Now I’m Ready is released on 16 Oct on Friends of Friends

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