bernard

To the uninitiated, a record released under a moniker as twee as Bernard + Edith can’t help but instil a sense of mortal dread of its doubtless insipid, vapid, soundtrack-for-a-mobile-phone-advert folksy fare. Mercifully though, Manchester electronic pop duo Greta Edith Carroll and Nick Bernard Delap – the latter formerly of Egyptian Hip Hop – use their cutesy, anachronistic middle names solely as a mischievous piece of misdirection, throwing everybody off the scent of the reverb-laden, 4AD-imbued aesthetic of their debut LP.

From This Mortal Coil and Dead Can Dance through to Dif Juz and Cocteau Twins, there’s often little to separate ‘Jem’ from its mid-eighties influences – ‘Crocodile’ comes off like a lost album track from ‘Treasure’ – but Carroll and Delap have tried not to lose themselves entirely in the past. The dark-hued synth-pop of ‘Heartache’, for instance, brings the duo up to date via Swedish contemporaries Fever Ray and iamiamiwhoami. The crux, though, is that ‘Jem’ is an enjoyable listen mainly for its first-rate reference points, rather than its individuality.

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