WIFE – What's Between
Perhaps the most accessible release so far from the unimpeachable Tri-Angle label, WIFE offers up his full-length debut, a gleaming, polished collection of glacial synth-pop and deep, meditative, ethereal R 'n' B with truly staggering vocal production and some scintillating, considered songwriting. Like former Tri-Angle artist oOoOO, his approach combines washed-out synth-scapes and delicate vocal hooks. But there is a majestic sweep, a widescreen, cinematic ambition to James Kelly's songwriting that reaches for the melodramatic narrative touch of early Nine Inch Nails, or the abstract torch songs of Japan.
The Haxan Cloak, on production duties, lends a doomed, romantic feel; resonant and spacious. A sense of transcendental light warring with dark and claustrophobic gloom pervades, and the results are emotionally wrenching. Kelly is drawing on ancient choral traditions, deconstructed forms of electronic music spanning decades, but the songs are never difficult or over-cooked. What's Between is nuanced, unhurried, and in places, quite sublime.