London based experimental artist Emily Underhill, commonly known as Tusks, is set to release her debut album “Dissolve” on the 13th of October through the One little Indian label. Gorgeously atmospheric, ambient perfection and experimental genius, “Dissolve” is a beautiful journey from start to finish.
The album opens up with “For you”, a mesmerizing mix of echoing raindrops blended with a simple melody, the track puts you in a dream state, with hypnotizing vocals and soft percussion, it’s almost reminiscent of a Joji song in the sense that the beat accompanies this one line repeated through the whole song with different effects in different places.
“False” introduces some of the themes of trusting someone, and the vulnerability that comes along with that along with doubtful lyrics “Do you still believe in me?” the theme is realized through a track separated into two parts with an overarching theme, areas of the song guide the smooth vocals with a small guitar melody while other parts pick up the pace with a fast paced drum beat with symbol patterns and guitar melodies shrouded in reverb, it’s a lovely track that gets your heart going if you listen close enough.
“Last” is a beautiful electronic pop song, with lo fi drum sounds and drowsy chord patterns, themes of being torn apart by love, and the consequences of giving your love to someone realized through vocals sang like voices in your head, angelic, loud and ambient. “Last” is one of the more powerful and hard hitting tracks on the album, ending on a loud blend of percussion, crashing symbols and swirling synth melodies.
Title track “Dissolve” is a gorgeous ballad showing Emily using her own memories and as an artist creating an immersive, artistic track painting a rich soundscape full of texture and colour. The vocals throughout the track are progressive, starting off sounding almost hurt and defeated, but by the end triumphing over her own fears and worries accompanied by loud symbols swimming in an ocean of reverb, it’s a lovely, visual experience to help you keep your head up.
Halfway through the album and we’re greeted with “1807”, showcasing just how perfect ambiance fits into the indie pop genre, with harrowing lyrics found through painful vocals, the song follows an eerie two note melody accompanied by strange sounds, creating a paranoid atmosphere for the short track.
“Paris” sounds like a song straight out of the charts. With exhausted vocals matching the downhearted themes of the lyrics, perfectly accompanied by a drum beat matching a heartbeat and crackling electronic spikes followed by echoing backing vocals and powerful synths, “Paris” feels like the midway song where the themes really start to develop and the picture Emily is painting becomes more and more vivid.
Rhythmic and slow, “Ivy” carries on the theme of vulnerability and heartbreak through the metaphor of poison and comparing love to being suffocated, showing off Emily’s amazing vocal range through a shift in atmosphere from the verse to the chorus, giving the song a sense of progression and fulfillment. The instruments at times feel aggressive, but for the most part feel subdued and quiet to allow the vocals to properly shine on this fantastic song.
Nearing to the end of the album and “Toronto” comes out of nowhere with a powerful melody and themes of lack of passion, love, and the doubts that stem from that. The song lies on a bed of hard hitting drum rolls that lead into a gorgeous mix of reverb heavy guitars and the use of the violin, which hasn’t been seen much if at all on the previous tracks. The song ends on a long mellow note, creating the idea that the songs are feeling more hopeless now as it nears to the end.
“My love” is a hazy, hypnotizing song with a lethargic atmosphere strengthened by a heavy melody and drowsy vocals that rarely pick themselves up, the track feels helpless, as if all of the themes of triumph and keeping your head up have failed, “My love” sees Tusks almost retreating into herself, ending the song on a dreary rain sample blended with eerie feedback tones.
The final track to this fierce debut is a stunning cover of Foals’ “London Thunder” with a unique Tusks spin with heavy reverb and a dreamy atmosphere.
Overall, I think “Dissolve” is going to be one of the best releases this year, the experimental aspects blended with the mix of positive and negative themes make the album unique, not to mention the genius use of ambiance and reverb, the vocals and lyrics are astonishing, expressing so many emotions listening to the 10 tracks feels like a rollercoaster. Tusks is clearly an incredibly visual artist, each cinematic track feels organic and natural and whether you’re a critic, newcomer or longtime fan the debut won’t disappoint.