Bernard + Edith

Jem

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Mancunian electronic duo Bernard + Edith offer up this delightfully moody and slightly menacing debut for the Bella Union label. Citing, among other things, David Lynch's Twin Peaks as a major influence, Nick "Bernard" Delap and Greta "Edith" Carroll work hard to build a woozy, textural world that pits crystalline synth-soul against some genuine Black Lodge darkness. In their short career together they've earned comparisons to fellow Brits like London Grammar and the xx, both of which are apt enough, though what Bernard + Edith do really feels a bit more renegade and underground than either of those bands. There are elements of trip-hop in their murky beats and gauzy atmospheres, yet they don't come across quite as detached as you might expect. Songs like "Wurds," "Dagger," and the ethereal title track have a strangely passionate vein running through them, and Edith's beguiling vocals come across like some amalgamation of Kate Bush and Siouxsie Sioux bubbling up from their foggy echo chamber. The array of synth sounds, tones, samples, and beats they employ is consistently interesting, with plenty of left turns and an always present undercurrent of risk, especially on tracks like the sensual "I Will Be" and "Crocodile." While they're certainly not the first band in 2015 to reference the swirling dream pop of Cocteau Twins or bleak sonic themes of Portishead, they are far more original and daring than your typical experimental bedroom pop act, using their inspirations as a stepping-off point en route to their own adventures and inventions.

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