Emika - Dva

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  • Emika is a sound designer first and foremost. Her early solo work felt like a vehicle for her mastery of sound, particularly low-end. On her second full-length for Ninja Tune, Dva, she beefs up her songwriting, focusing on themes both political and personal. At times harking back to earlier tracks like "Drop The Other," at others exploring gloomy synth-pop, Dva is a varied record that dips in and out of Emika's comfort zone. You'll know what you're in for when you hear the operatic trills of "Hush Intro": Dva is a painfully serious record. From the bombastic synth-horn refrains (think the creepy camp of Depeche Mode's "Pimpf") or the pompous "She Beats" (her own take on paranoid disco, Glass Candy-style), it's clear that her non-stop erotic cabaret has turned inward, towards something more personal and anxious. Rather than booming floor tracks anchored by her sultry voice, Emika now makes electro ballads like "Fight For Your Love" with self-consciously epic sounds and synths. The sexy intimacy of those old tunes, where it felt like she was whispering in your ear over the din of a club, feels conspicuously absent. In turn, Dva feels like a vessel for her suddenly upfront vocals. Her voice has a gruff, almost menacing tinge in spite of her innately sweet tones. She has trouble propping up whole songs, especially with these big sweeping refrains. Nowhere are her vocal limitations more obvious than on the inexplicable cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game"—even that indelible chord progression can't rescue her from being washed away by the choppy sea of electronics around her. Emika's music still work best when she's dealing with simple melodies, because that's when her production speaks the loudest. The slightly maudlin "Primary Colours" is among her best. This time, when her voice can't quite carry the high notes in the chorus, it's heartbreaking, primarily because it's set against such a devastating chord progression. And her sound design, of course, is still captivating. "Sleep With My Enemies" pairs her naked vocals with swelling grand pianos that clash against the artificial buzz. That strikingly three-dimensional sound is a reminder of what makes Emika such a great producer. Though it's often lost in the overwrought emotions of Dva, her gift for sound remains even when she overshoots the mark.
  • Tracklist
      01. Hush (Interlude) 02. Young Minds 03. She Beats 04. Filters 05. After The Fall 06. Sing To Me 07. Dem Worlds 08. Primary Colours 09. Sleep With My Enemies 10. Wicked Game 11. Fight For Your Love 12. Mouth To Mouth 13. Searching 14. Centuries 15. Criminal Gift