Leave a beautiful synth…
Joshua Copperman: Sylvan Esso remind me a lot of the British jazz trio GoGo Penguin, in that both bands have a comfort zone simultaneously heady and accessible, and both are joyously quirky. This is a perfect example for Esso — it’s catchy, but the main synth line is deliberately mixed high (by BJ Burton!), creating a somewhat disorienting effect. Similarly, after teasing the chorus, there’s actually a sudden, entirely new bridge section. The fake-out is jarring at first, but it makes sense when the lyric is “I was gonna die/I had it all planned out before you met me/I had a plan, you ruined it completely.” She was going to finish that with “die young,” but this love interest ruined her big plan “completely.” Normally that would be a reach, but what makes me love them and the song is that it was probably intentional.
Iain Mew: Expressing love via saying you’re inspired to live your life longer, complete with resentful shrug, is a difficult one to get tonally right. Sylvan Esso leave the listener to fill in the humour, playing it darkly romantic with aid of a magnificently weighty synth line. It proves a good choice.
Juana Giaimo: The lyrics of “Die Young” are disconcerting at least — is this really an almost-suicide song? — but the music flows so gently. There are dark synths in the chorus, but they don’t provide any tension. They are instead a soft comfortable cushion for the vocals to keep their placid and languid melody. Compared to other artists who wrote about youth being attracted to death, Sylvian Esso’s try sounds rather weak.
Katie Gill: Kesha is the undisputed queen of songs titled “Die Young” and making the best of that sort of eyerolly James Dean completely awful concept of burning bright and idolizing the concept of youth. But I guess Sylvan Esso’s doing a good job at vying for second place. Those last thirty seconds are pretty spectacular at least.
David Sheffieck: The production shifts enough to create a sense of momentum and the concept’s an intriguing update of the perennial death-drive theme, but a song that relies this much on repetitions of its hook needs an absolutely killer one — and there Sylvan Esso fall short. Take me to another verse, please.
Alfred Soto: Amelia Meath hops and skips over her partner’s garish synths, and if I didn’t get the impression that she’s in search of a tune I’d appreciate the movement.
Maxwell Cavaseno: You know, I’m glad we got past the keeping guitars alive thing, I truly am. But I’m not happy to know that dreadfully maudlin and sentimental indie singers can ruin synths and sound effects for me. Then again, synths-and-singers is a 40-or-so year-old formula, so it’s no wonder that it’s beginning to become a little long in the tooth.