Sylvan Esso’s sophomore album, What Now, is the sound of a band truly fulfilling the potential and promise of their debut. Everything has evolved - the production is bolder, the vocals are more intense, the melodies are more infectious, and the songs shine that much brighter. However, it is also a record that was made in 2016 - which means it is inherently grappling with the chaos of a country seething inward on itself, the voices of two people nestled in studios around the country who were bemused by what they looked out and saw. It’s an album that is both political and personal, and blurs the line between the two – What Now describes the inevitable low that comes after every high, fulfillment tempered by the knowledge that there is no clearly defined conclusion. What Now asks where we go as a culture when standing at what feels like a precipice. It’s a record about falling in love and learning that it won’t save you; about the oversharing of information and the fine line between self-awareness and narcissism; about meeting one’s own personal successes but feeling the fizzling embers of the afterglow rather than the roar of achievement; about the crushing realization that no progress can ever feel permanent. It is an album that finds its strength in its own duality. But at its core, What Now is an album of the finest songs this band has ever written- produced masterfully, sang fearlessly- to articulate our collective undercurrents of anxiety and joy.
Sylvan Esso’s Grammy nominated sophomore album What Now is out now on Loma Vista Recordings and available here.