Breathing Statues found Young Magic's lineup pared down to the duo of Isaac Emmanuel and Melati Malay, but the album sounds far bigger and more polished than their debut, Melt. Malay and Emmanuel recorded these songs while on tour in places as far-flung as Morocco, France, and Australia, which may have something to do with the way Breathing Statues evokes somewhere far-off -- but leaves where exactly that might be deliciously indistinct. "Cobra" melds a lunging beat and dirty synth bass with sitars, while "Mythnomer" mixes Asian-tinged chromatic percussion with a rhythm section that leans toward dubstep. These fusions rarely feel forced, and the album's dreamy, eclectic pop is as dense and intricate as Leif Podhajsky's kaleidoscopic artwork. There's a darker, more seductive feel to Young Magic's music on Breathing Statues than there was on Melt; the phrases that bubble to the surface among Malay's breathy vocals, such as when she whispers "Your secret's safe with me" on "Ageless," only add to the mystery. Yet the album reveals that Emmanuel and Malay have also honed their pop sensibilities, proving that they can make their sound more accessible without losing any of its uniqueness. The sexy, graceful "Fall In" evokes '60s exotica and '90s trip-hop with a hypnotic groove that feels like it could go on forever; "Something in the Water" turns the crisp beats and funky basslines of mainstream pop into something more subversively alluring; and "Holographic" adds a more purposeful edge to Melt's radiant indie pop. Moments like these help draw listeners into Breathing Statues' subtler tracks, which range from the complexity of "Waiting for the Ground to Open" to the impressionistic simplicity of "Foxglove." Throughout it all, the album's sounds are so transporting that they carry the less accessible moments and make Breathing Statues an entrancing second effort.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares