Published Oct 28, 2015Following their 2013 EP Medusa, DC duo GEMS' debut LP finds Lindsay Pitts and Clifford John Usher employing slick pop production to create a release that is atmospheric and fluid. GEMS' misty synth soundscapes on Kill The One You Love are a seductive combination of '90s trip-hop and dream-pop.
Pitts' range of soulful, sultry vocals bring both Esthero and Dido to mind, but what really stands out are GEMS' penetrative, undulating waves of synth, combined with occasional spurts of samples and glitches. The darker undercurrents here save this release from being generic ambient-meets-electro-pop: the feedback in response to acoustic strings on "Heartbreaker," the jarring, heavier feel of "Epitaph," the distorted synth on "Savior" and jittery beats of album highlight "Empires Fall."
GEMS' only shortcoming are their occasionally cheesy, melodramatic lyrics, and when Usher's intermittent vocal contributions sound like tired grumbles, working against GEMS' aesthetic and Pitts stylized vocal tendencies. Otherwise, Kill The One You Love is an undeniable success. (Carpark)