Emerging Artists: DIANA

umojacketv1THE INDUSTRIAL drone that opens ‘Foreign Installation’ seems to signpost Perpetual Surrender’s primary mode as brooding melancholia; within 20 seconds the illusion is shattered as spindly synth strokes expand outwards. The effect is akin to coming up for air from the stifle of that drone and so it goes with the rest of the album. There’s an obvious stylistic nod throughout to the chillwave movement (Washed Out, Neon Indian, Toro Y Moi et al); you can almost taste the California salt on the air… except the band’s from Toronto. Huh.

Carmen Elle’s velvety vocals are often partially submerged beneath a striking aural maze of airy synth and crunching, melodic bass; the effect is wonderfully realised on the title track, which features liquid, ‘Careless Whisper’-esque sax injections from Joseph Shabason before dissolving beneath the weight of its own aquatic soundscape. Backed by a sturdy rhythm section and lush, sprawling washes of sound, Elle characterises each song with a sense of mystery and longing; whenever she comes to the fore of the mix it drives home the strength of the songwriting with the lightest of touches.

The varnished shimmer of the production, steeped in visored sunshine, belies the romantic uncertainty and introspective soul-searching of its lyrics. “I need to know you’re terrified,” Elle sings on the sparse, organ-driven ‘New House’. “Let’s make this feel like something / one more last time,” Elle implores on ‘Strange Attraction’. Though it clocks in at just under 35 minutes, there’s never a sensation of insubstantiality; DIANA seems to instinctively know when to hold back and when to launch the assault. The result is an impressively self-assured début that hints toward something bigger and even better. Well worth a listen.