For someone who formed her first band in 1986 and then found success as part of the first wave of shoegaze in the early ’90s, it shouldn’t be a surprise that ex-Lush guitarist Emma Anderson’s debut solo outing sounds like it does: programmed drums and vintage keyboards underpinning washes and flourishes of glistening, dense guitar with almost-whispered vocals alternately buried within the mix and floating on top, the effect being a very pleasant, gauzy 30-year timewarp.
Perhaps what’s more surprising is how contemporary these retro stylings sound here, maybe because of Anderson’s decision to record the whole thing straight into her computer with no band, giving her and her producer James Chapman (aka bedroom electronica auteur Maps) complete editorial control. Such frictionless production makes for a pleasingly intimate take on the usually grandiose stylings of dreampop, even if occasionally the results are overly clean and gridded, lacking the spontaneity and energy that human musicians – particularly in terms of percussion – can offer.
When it works, though, as it frequently does, Pearlies is genuinely bewitching, reminiscent of the folk-horror sides of Goldfrapp and Broadcast and full of pretty melodies with foreboding underbellies, like TV theme tunes beamed in from an alternate dimension.
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