Keep Shelly in Athens

At Home

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AllMusic Review by Tim Sendra

On the EPs leading up to this, their debut album At Home, the Greek duo Keep Shelly in Athens built a sound out of cast-off parts from electronic eras gone by. The Orb's dubby ambience, the slinking beats and blue atmospheres of trip-hop, lushly sculptured synths taken from an Enya deep cut...these were the building blocks to which the mysterious duo added soaring female vocals and came up with something both quite familiar but somehow new. The duo kept all these elements, adding a few welcome additions (sparkly Cocteau Twins-y grandeur, more fleshed-out songs) and a few they should have a taken a pass on (the unfortunate flashes of dubstep, some over the top vocal emoting). The result is an album that sounds good when the pieces fit together well, like on the loping "Recollection" or "Flyway," where vocalist Sarah P sounds like an elfin Beth Gibbons singing over a lost Cybotron beat, but falls short of the goal when they don't (the draggy "Stay Away" or the fatally infected-by-dubstep "DIY"). They definitely sound best when they steer clear of the heavy, dragging beats and employ a lighter, less obviously dramatic touch. The booming bass and thundering drums tend to overwhelm the synths and force Sarah to really belt in order to keep up. The songs that show some restraint, or at least dial back the drama a little, fare much better. There aren't enough songs like "Recollection" and the very poppy "Room 14 (I'm Fine)" to counteract the moments of heaviness, though, and the album ends up being capsized by the sheer heaviness of the majority of the songs.

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