Album Review: Keep Shelly in Athens – Now I’m ready

Everything seemed to be rosy in Greek duo Keep Shelly in Mind’s world, at least from the outside following the release of their highly regarded debut album, 2012’s At Home. However, shortly afterwards, lead singer Shelly P left to persue a solo career, and the future of the band, given that they were 50% lighter in members, seemed in doubt.

Remaining member RPR had other ideas, drafting in a new singer, the mysterious Myrtha, and Now I’m Ready, out tomorrow via Friends of Friends shows that his actions were, or rather are, vilified, as Keep Shelly in Athens have produced an album thats more mature and more developed than their opener, but is no less charming and lovable.

Opening track Fractals opens the set with these shivering, shoegaze/4AD guitars, and Myrtha’s first foray into the record shows shes every bit the replacement for Shelly P, in fact they are almost extraordinarily similar, her dreamy vocals softly draping themselves over the shivering synth lines. Follow on Silent Rain is more straight forward, driven onward by this bass, while over the top, synth lines and this minimal, housey percussion lays down beats and 808 claps, before the title track, featuring Ocean Hope starts as no more than a bud of an idea, before the tempo winds up as it flowers into ethereal pop, these wiry guitar lines scratching their way over the sheen of the electronics.

There’s more bleary, tear-soaked eyes in the Line 4, before Benighted plays on the loneliness and melancholy which seems to purvey much of the album. Its soaked in echo, and it plays out like a female James Blake as musically the disco lights blink into the dark night and the rain covers the tears. It all gets almost too much. Thankfully, Hollow Man is there to wipe away the tears, these ambient synths propelled by eastern European flavours, as the band take a leaf out of the local (musical) directory. Myrtha’s vocal, kooky but angelic also shines over the cascading background.

Nobody steps back into the smoke machine gloom, the gentle throb of the bass, and these haunting electronics providing the backing at the outset of Myrtha’s evocative vocal. Closing track Hunter drips more emotion into the pot as it echos around emptiness, the slow marked guitar and electronics eventually flowering into something a little more trip-hoppy.

And then its over, and whats left is that a record for friday nights staying in, or getting in alone, or at least not getting in with who you’d have liked to. It’s tales of sadness and loneliness and melancholy, wrapped up in fuzzy synths and attractive melodies. Really, whats not to like about that?

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