Gemma Hayes

Bones + Longing

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Working again with longtime producer David Odlum, Gemma Hayes employs reverb and denser arrangements for a more defined indie rock feel on Bones + Longing, which remains lilting and well-crafted in her delicately avant-garde manner. The reverb and occasional rough edges, like guitar finger-squeaks and gritty effects, keep the album from sounding too exquisite, a trait of her meticulous work at times, and warm the overall presentation. An artful mix of melodic earnestness, melancholic synths, varied guitar tones, and breezy romance, the album is remindful at times of the most wistful New Order and the softest Jewel, but with Hayes' particular gentleness. Off-kilter moments occur sparsely but regularly, such as on the warped bit in the bridge of the sweetly catchy "Dreamt You Were Fine;" the over-a-minute-long instrumental wail leading to the end of the danceable but yearning "Joy" ("I can take another day/As long as I can see you"); or her voice breaking in "To Be Your Honey" -- originally written and recorded into Hayes' iPhone, the vocal track was used on the album. This all contributes to textures not only in the sound of a moment, but through time. Lyrics throughout the album are unsettled and, as per the title, longing ("Say something that will carry me away/Say something that will make me stay"). The overall effect is a dreamy, palatable melancholy that soothes without stagnating and charms while haunting. A note to collectors: the opening track, "Laughter," is a lusher, shoegaze redo of "There's Only Love" from her previous album, 2011's Let It Break, and also appeared as "Jets" on the 2011 compilation Velvet Ears Two, sounding similar to that version here.

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