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On her second full-length, DVA, Emika works from the same ice-blue palette, but pulls back on the wobbling dubstep bass frequencies and trendy production to let her plaintive female vocals take center stage. Although a more fragile release, DVA balances the Berlin (by way of Bristol) artist's pop and experimental sides, just as her self-titled debut did. "Young Minds" and "Sing to Me" reinterpret the chilled, pulsing soundscapes of "Drop the Other" and "Double Edged," and the shimmering darkwave ballads "Fight for Your Right" and "Mouth to Mouth" resemble a cross-hatching of Grimes and the Knife. Poppy tendencies keep the song structures tight, but Emika's adherence to a dark, dystopian vision sets her apart from the mainstream. Like goth queen Siouxsie Sioux, she seems heartbroken and incapable of pleasure, achingly singing through tears on "Dem Worlds" and "Primary Colours," and then seeking vengeance without a hint of remorse on "Sleep with My Enemies." A mix of retro and modern ideas keeps the release interesting, as do the slight soundscape shifts between shadowy synth pop, electroclash, and witch house. Even though Emika's deadpan, frosty attitude keeps the audience at arm's length and DVA lacks an obvious stand out single (with the exception of the tripped-out cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game"), it is a cohesive, rewarding album that cleverly manages to dodge the usual sophomore pitfalls. The debut is the one with the hits that draw you into her dark mood, while DVA is the sludgy one you sink into and wallow in for a while.

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