Avalon Emerson & the Charm Avalon Emerson & the Charm Another Dove
Entering your 30s is a weird moment in a person’s life. In an ideal scenario, we will have left behind much of the anguish and anxieties of our 20s. More realistically, though, it will be a time of increased alienation, especially for those sidestepping the conventional trappings of adulthood (a stable nine-to-five, kids, house ownership). In what feels like a blink of an eye, the lives of the people closest to you move off in opposite directions.
Avalon Emerson’s debut album Avalon Emerson & the Charm reflects on these themes across an album of shimmering melodies and cinematic dreamscapes, knowingly channelling the synth-pop influences she grew up with into playful and emotional pop songs.
Sandrail Silhouette, the album’s introduction, captures the pang of growing up and growing apart with grace. “All my friends are having daughters/ Beautiful just like them, of course,” she observes, her feathery voice floating over majestic strings and jangly guitars.
As one of the most in-demand DJs on the dance music circuit, she spent the majority of her Saturn Return years in international airports until the pandemic threw her jet-setting life into question. Three cities and a multiple lockdowns later, she returned to the music of her childhood, releasing a cover of the Magnetic Fields’ Long-Forgotten Fairytale with an accompanying music video documenting a cross-country move to New York.
Though Emerson was never a stranger to linking synth-pop and dreamy, lo-fi guitar music with techno, the UK producer Bullion, a fellow enthusiast, encouraged her to dive further into her love of these sounds. Entombed in Ice commemorates the ending of a relationship and the beginning of another through lush orchestral arrangements and frantic percussion, as if to say: shake off your protective walls, and replace them with vulnerability and hope.
Kaleidoscopic synths and a wiggly bassline give a sense of suppleness to funk bop A Vision, while Karaoke Song mocks the mundane chit-chat involved in catching up, and The Stone is a tearjerker with deep cello strings, soft acoustic guitar chords and keys that sparkle like street lights in the wee post-club hours. Dreamliner picks the pace up, journeying through the time-space continuum with a steady kick drum pumping at 120 BPM and Emerson’s distorted, nonsensical lyrics.
Perplexingly, Hot Evening, the album’s most club-adjacent track, just doesn’t quite work. Sure, the track’s 2-step beat is fun, but Emerson’s limited range as a vocalist is laid bare, underscored by a whimsical but an ineffective “oooh-waaa” vocal breakdown. Luckily, though, the rest of the album redeems this off-beat moment. Avalon fully lets loose on A Dam Will Always Divide, her voice distorted through reverb, as wild guitar riffs and live breakbeat drum rhythms offer a satisfying resolution to this bold new venture.