Following 2011's Dream Diary, Jeremy Jay took some time to compose film scores, a move that makes perfect sense considering how subtle and evocative his songs are. His return to pop, Abandoned Apartments, reaffirms that his flair for setting a scene can shine in either genre. He builds on the floaty synth pop/disco sound he first adopted on 2009's Slow Dance, but these songs' words and sounds are an equal mix of gritty and ethereal. Surprisingly muscular guitars give an edge to gauzy synths on "Covered in Ivy," while "Graveyard Shift," an anthem for the forgotten, imbues dirt and coffee beans with just as much romance as the more idyllic songs. Throughout the album, Jay seeks and finds beauty in overlooked, empty spaces, and of course, in memories of the things that once filled them. "Far & Near" examines the real and imagined distance between lovers with seductive whispers and spectral slow-dance pop reminiscent of Chromatics. Stream-of-consciousness imagery and train motifs dominate "The View from the Train Window," where "strange memories" and "blisters from accidents that never happened" streak by like sped-up scenery, and "I Was Waiting," where a lyric like "I was waiting in my heart" covers as much emotional distance as the song's cross-country love story. At times, the album's ephemerality is a little too elusive for its own good; on songs like "Red Primary Afternoon" and "You Said It Was Forever," it feels like Jay gets so lost in his reveries that he forgets to bring his audience with him. Even if it takes a little more effort than expected to fall under the spell he's casting, Abandoned Apartments' finest moments make it one of Jay's best blends of dreamy surrealism and crisp-edged pop in some time.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares