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Solace Review

by MacKenzie Wilson

Mandalay's Nicola Hitchcock and Saul Freeman compose a healthy introduction on their V2 debut Solace. A sultry mix of trip-hop threads and atmospheric electronic minimalism, Solace aims for a calamity similar to household dream pop pioneers the Cocteau Twins and Siddal. The double-disc is a melancholic hue of emotional discovery while showcasing tracks from the band's two previous albums, Empathy and Instinct, and limited-edition remixes by Tom Middleton, Boymerang, and Futureshock. The hushing "Not Seventeen" breathes with Hitchcock's brittle vocalics, and the free-flowing piano drops sets the album's overall tone. The subtle ambience of "It's Enough Now" exudes Mandalay's most fragile state of song. It's stripped with down-tempo string arrangements similar to "This Life," but the jazz-tinged lounge feel sets a mood that's far more enticing. There is a musical mystery to Solace. There is a sophistication matching the likes of Portishead's Beth Gibbons, and honestly it's Hitchcock's vocal impressions that surround the wintry soundscape on the album. Fresh and inviting, Solace refrains from mainstream electronic music for a transcending kaleidoscope of sound.

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