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Avalon Emerson is hard to define. an EP of strange, subdued electronic compositions; and some fun, raw-edged remixes for King Princess. The biggest left turn, however, may have been the cover of Magnetic Fields’ “Long Forgotten Tale” that opened his 2020 set. DJ-Kicks mix. Loyal and brilliant, it was an amazing fake-out that replaced Stephen Merritt’s cringe-worthy production with a bright, dark Synthorism without losing the original’s mix of sarcasm and sincerity.

Emerson’s latest track, “Sandrail Silhouette,” shows that the transition to indie-pop wasn’t a one-off. (It was co-produced with London musician Boullion, who encouraged him to record a Magnetic Fields cover.) First look at his debut feature. Avalon Emerson and the Charm, it’s a gorgeous, vocal solo that nods to the rippling textures of ’90s electronica, as well as the sprawling moods of cult pop artists like Scribble and Anna Domino. Emerson’s stunned vocals are breathy and calm, hiding the anxiety of the times; “Tell me I got more time/When all my friends have daughters/Pretty like them of course/A reason to be optimistic.” Strings bloom after the storm under ornate drums and fuzzy guitar. Although the indie pop core comes as a surprise, “Sandrail Silhouette” ultimately feels like it’s part of the same bright, windswept world as she is. 060: EP, and it shows that Emerson can be just as engaging a frontman as he is a DJ.

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