Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

Louise Burns – Emeralds Shatter

Today is also apparently Singers With Jessie J Hair day…


Alex Ostroff: Somehow I’m giving the highest score on this day-of-Canadians not to either of my established favourites, but to the former bassist of Lillix. (To be fair, I have a lot of affection for their two pretty great and inescapable-in-Canada singles from my youth.) “Emeralds Shatter” presses enough obvious buttons designed to appeal to me that I’m holding off from a [9] out of fear that I love its aesthetic more than the song itself. Still, that rise and fall of the chorus would be magical even if not draped in “gauzy synths” and other tired music critic tropes.

Tara Hillegeist: Louise Burns really likes Stevie Nicks and New Order. “Me too, Louise,” a cool thousand critics on the Internet sigh, “me too.”

Iain Mew: “Emeralds Shatter” reminds me of New Order’s “Temptation”, or more specifically of the club scene in Trainspotting which I was sure it soundtracked. (Turns out that’s “Atomic” and a different “Temptation” and the New Order one comes later, but it would totally have worked too.) Also the bit of the party scene in Donnie Darko soundtracked by The Church’s “Under the Milky Way”. Which is to say that “Emeralds Shatter” is quite ’80s and uses lots of reverb and washes of synth, but also that Burns has used them to fantastic effect to give the sense of inexorable action, of a crowded room vanishing while the world waits on a fated moment for her.

Alfred Soto: Swathed in enough echo-laden twang guitar to be heard in Nepal, Louise Burns emotes from the balcony of her swank eighties hotel, hoping to get the call about a Twin Peaks appearance. 

Anthony Easton: I really don’t know if this is any good. I love how atmospheric it is, how broken and exhausted, and a Euro accent elucidating the ways she is filled with ennui is always charming. But the music seems Almond/PSB lite, and it overwhelms what has to say. The production might be too precious, too elegant, but that doesn’t seem like a deliberate juxtaposition. A noble experiment, but one that doesn’t stick its landing, perhaps?

Will Adams: No, it doesn’t matter. If you swath your melancholy in reverb and top it with slow-burning synths, I will listen.

Katherine St Asaph: I believe in the curative powers of reverb.

Daniel Montesinos-Donaghy: “Emeralds Shatter” holds two easily noticeable hooks: “what am I doing here at all?” and “it doesn’t matter.” Oof. Burns’ lyrical content, as you’d imagine, leans toward blunt angst and the occasional soiled grandeur of “you watched an emerald shatter.” She lightens the load of all this glumness with perfectly matched musical cues and her vocal performance. C86 synthpop plods by with Burns’ gauzed dramatics, somewhere between numbness and coolness. Somewhere, somebody is moodily roaming their school corridors or daily commute to this song, and bless ’em for that -– we all need one of these mope-pop staples in rotation, if you ask me.

Brad Shoup: Constructed, it seems, not to be received as message or music but a rearrangement of Big Pop Moments from 25-30 years ago. Could score the prom scene in a straight-to-Redbox movie.

Jer Fairall: Fitting a clipped version on the bass riff from Til Tuesday’s “Coming Up Close” over what sounds like the chug of Bowie’s “Heroes” played at half speed is a pretty surefire way of getting me to like your song. Illuminating it with a lyric like “tell your dad you’re not having fun,” like a transmission from a summer camp located at the loneliest end of the world, all but guarantees it.

Edward Okulicz: The reason it sounds like so many ’80s alt-rock whispers is because Burns has ripped off the mood, not the songs, she loves. The reason it gets a good score is because the song she’s put on top is as good as most of them; it’s nearly a midpoint between shoegazing and levitating.

Scott Mildenhall: “Emeralds Shatter” is an anagram of “Lest Hearts Dream”, which would be an equally good title for this song. Don’t say this site doesn’t spoil you.

Ian Mathers: Neither Louise Burns’ work as the bassist of Lillix nor her rootsier debut Mellow Drama really exist in the same world as “Emeralds Shatter.” That world is, unmistakably and unapologetically, the ’80s, from the bass runs to the cover art to the keyboard washes to the title that sounds like it could be a Comsat Angels B-side. The reason it works so well is that “Emeralds Shatter” doesn’t really sound like a pastiche of the Cure or the Cocteau Twins or whoever; it sounds like a song that could have been on the (college) radio alongside the Cure and the Cocteau Twins and whoever. It feels to me like a driftier, dreamier colleague to Haim’s excellent recent singles, or maybe that’s just a way to explain how strongly the softly soaring chorus has grabbed me. If the rest of the promised album hits me half as hard, it might still be my album of the year.

Reader average: [8] (3 votes)

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3 Responses to “Louise Burns – Emeralds Shatter”

  1. katherine do u worship at the church of jesus and the mary chain?

  2. not much longer.

  3. …and that would have made 150% more sense if you were commenting on carly rae jepsen.