Friday, February 23, 2018

Sur Back - Kitsch II EP (2018)

Following lead singles "Valentino" and "Anyone Else", Kitsch II, the second release from newly Brooklyn based singer/songwriter/producer Caroline Sans aka Sur Back arrives to further fill in Sans' pastel colored musical tapestries. Sans' new record essentially picks up right from where the last one left off as "Kitsch" with its cherry red flush, sultry coo, and stately strings conjure the same bold colorings as the incendiary album opener "Valentino".

"Valentino" marks a welcome departure from the softer, gentler sounds of Kitsch's "Trophy Daughter" and "Pastel". While Sans' use of orchestral accompaniment have largely been subtler and more ornamental in previous ventures, on "Valentino" Sans makes them an inseparable part of the song's framework. Beginning with a horn swell and pizzicato strings before the entrance of glitchy, clattering drum beats, "Valentino" sees Sans' more effortlessly blurring the lines between orchestral and electronic while still allowing room for her feather-light vocals and angular guitar to perform serpentine formations and craning sighs. Perhaps more so than any other of her works, "Valentino" is a feat of daring requiring such flawlessly executed production to pull off. Unsurprisingly, Sans' is exceptionally familiar at writing/producing for herself and employs an impressive balance between the track's various moving parts.

While "Valentino" and "Kitsch" make extensive use of strings and brass, "Anyone Else" sees Sans full-on embracing her composer ambitions. The first of a multi-movement work split between it and its following "Providence",  "Anyone Else" is a much subtler blend of strings and synths than Kitsch II cuts "Valentino" or "Jane Eyre", despite it's dramatic sweeps, it sees Sans at her gentlest and most tender as she sings of the purity of her love with both beguilingly reverent preciousness and a sense of fervor.

"Providence", a continuation of "Anyone Else", sees Sans' embracing a looser narrative form than "Anyone Else". "Providence" begins with a dramatic languorous opening that has Sans' cooing "Though honey we were just having fun" with a syrupy drawl that previews the track's later chorus. Pulsing synths and brass segue to the piece's first major section that continues Sans' honeyed delivery "A kiss before you go, it's the blaring red of brake lights fading ever fast as we shift back into drive" Sans sings with a luxuriating affect. Far more than its partner "Anyone Else", "Providence" is more compositionally complex as Sans seamlessly shifts between the song's various contrasting sections before eventually melding them all together at the song's climax. 

Album ender "Jane Eyre", Sans' first official single under the Sur Back moniker, finds new life on Kitsch II as it's bolder stylistic choices are more in line with this batch of songs than those of her previous EP. With its stuttering melodies and slightly off-kilter rhythm, "Jane Eyre" finds Sans' operating at peak at the very beginning of her career. Sans' blends synth, guitar, brass and drum samples, all in asymmetrical meter along with flowing, smooth as silk vocals to form a pristinely plotted dark pop gem.

Kitsch II marks an ambitious next step for Sans after an already strong debut in Kitsch. Featuring some of  Sans' earliest musical sketches flushed out and pursued to their fullest potential, Kitsch II further establishes Sans as a gifted producer capable of making deeply arresting musical documents that effortlessly evade the very notion of genre. Time has served her exceptionally well, heightening not only her production talents but her artistic sensibilities as she creates an absolutely immersive record positively overflowing with winsome moments of pitch perfect songcraft. With the release of her new EP, there's no telling when we'll next hear from Sans but when we do, it's sure to be with as flawlessly executed a work as Kitsch II.

Sur Back's sophomore EP Kitsch II is out February 23rd.

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