“I can’t stop looking in the mirror/ Do I really make that face?” opines the opening lyric to this debut album from North London duo IDER. It hints at the arrival of a scrapingly self-examinatory new auteur in pop music. Alas, the rest of ‘Emotional Education’ fails to deliver on any such promise.
Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville sing as the two splits of one voice, echoing and interlocking each other so tightly that they would be telling only half a story if somehow untangled. It is their most compelling trait; a polycephalous synergy that lends their songs a sense of shared origins.
Unfortunately, these eleven songs ultimately share far too much. They become difficult to separate even after repeated listens, a uniform voice of empowerment and millennial confession that is channelled through the same squeaky clean EDM sheen throughout. Tracks are arranged according to the tried-and-tested roadmap to mainstream airplay success and one or two may well make it to that destination, especially the earwormy ‘Busy Being a Rockstar’. It does, though, mean that the album comes across as too calculated and risk-averse, the production too unfussy and one-tracked, which in an age of FKA Twigs, Lorde or even Billie Eilish is a level of caution too great to overlook.
When tracks like ‘Invincible’ and ‘Brown Sugar’ descend into the dreaded “whoah-oh”s-of-doom, the desired lung-busting banger status is far out of reach; the hooks neither sharp nor sweet enough to make an impact, the listener’s imagination left with too much of a task to fill in the voids that IDER have left.