I woke up this morning, turned on my side and looked out the apartment window, greeted by wispy torrents of powdered snow. At first, I was more or less annoyed. Just a few days earlier New York City had been crisp and temperate, as if autumn might linger for another couple of weeks. But, despite my inherently despondent dispositions, I soon came to enjoy the snow; the way it seemed to suspend itself in the air and illuminate the gloomy nooks and crannies of my quaint Bed-Stuyvesant block.
Someone else enjoyed the snow on this pallid New York morning, the Washington, DC-based synth-pop duo GEMS. “It’s snowing outside and our EP is out today!” wrote the band on their Facebook page, which was accompanied by a photo of vocalist Lindsay staring up into the colorless sky with a bewildered expression on her face. GEMS‘ EP Medusa is a four-track culmination of their impressive and distinguished musical contributions, the first, most recent song on the release, “Ephemera,” premiering yesterday.
It’s a softly lulling track, delicately reverberating synth melodies complimenting Lindsay’s harmonic interplay. “I’ll follow you out to the park at dusk/ Knee-deep in snow, imagine us,” sings Lindsay on the opening lines of “Ephemera,” which manifest as a sensual retrospective. When echoed by bandmate Clifford’s dubbed vocal, the chorus takes on a new shape: the emotive sincerity of a long-forgotten Coldplay juxtaposed with the lyrical bombast and breakbeat 80s nostalgia of producer Dev Hynes. A simplistic, shoe-gazed guitar riff maneuvers “Ephemera” to a parallel dimension of fluttering, coagulated synth, before skirting off to a tender close.
“Medusa,” the bass-heavy, percussion-oriented counterpart to “Ephemera,” similarly displays GEMS‘ knack for expertly restrained production techniques, while maintaining Lindsay’s clear talent for songwriting. It’s sounds like GEMS is negotiating between a lot of different things. Equal parts instrumental and electronic, organic and artificial, the group has synthesized their own distinct form of expression- the effect of which highlights this group as an act worth keeping an eye out for.