Arts Style

For the Record: Sylvan Esso

Sylvan Esso: Nick Sanborn, Amelia Meath. Photo by D.L. Anderson

Genre: Electro-folk rock

Favorite tracks: “Play It Right,” “Dreamy Bruises” and “Coffee”

Similar sounds: Dirty Projectors, Purity Ring, Kimbra, St. Vincent

Inspired look: Sylvan Esso’s music video for “Coffee” is pouring with stellar vintage-inspired goodies. While not all of the looks are 100% wearable, some peter pan collars and circle skirts certainly made the cut.

My rendition? A Ted Baker dressWarby Parker Sinclair eyeglassesModCloth “Dance the Day Away” heelsBauble Bar “Ella” diamond bangle bracelet, Kate Spade mini-gold stud bow earrings, and Charlotte Olympia “What a Peach” suede clutch.


Sound: Currently resonating throughout my bedroom are the sounds of Sylvan Esso, a North Carolina duo who have syndicated a merriment of folk and electro-pop. The result? Bright, interesting, and quirky pieces that create a pleasant background for all environments.

Demi-hits like “Play It Right” and the ever-so-catchy “Hey Mami” have seeped out into the independent music world with much applause. Most notably, “Coffee” delivers a piping hot, energized sound – one I’ve sang along to in the car a time too many.

While the lyrical endeavors of band mates Amelia Randall Meath (of Mountain Man) and Nick Sanborn (of Megafaun) are simple, the true charm is in the uplifting, sweet vocals. Meath’s voice is angelic-yet-dynamic. Her sound generates a soft, heartfelt tone that ranges from wispy lows to supreme highs. The lightness of her voice pairs over the electro waves of sound harmoniously to immerse the listener in a head bobbing, toe tapping, tune humming trance. While vocals are splendid and the beats are catchy, Sylvan Esso is a band that thrives on the symbiosis of the two.

As the singles released one-by-one, I strongly anticipated the arrival of the refreshing indie duo. A girl can only sing the repetitive “Coffee” lyrics “my baby does the hanky panky,” so many times before she craves a little more depth. When I finally got my hands on the band’s self-titled debut, I was in for a treat. While a portion of the tracks are not artfully substantial enough to be truly memorable, they offer a positive gem when absorbed in its entirety. Meath and Sanborn are on to something; I’ll go as far as saying that I enjoy the two artists coming together far more than I enjoy them apart. While Mountain Man and Megafaun both have special sounds, they are not distinctive and easily get washed up into a monotonous pool of folk. With such a comprehensive sound, Sylvan Esso started as a side project and in the process stumbled upon the “it” factor they’d been missing independently.



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