Release Date: May 12, 2015
Record label: Bella Union
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic
Mancunian electronic duo Bernard + Edith offer up this delightfully moody and slightly menacing debut for the Bella Union label. Citing, among other things, David Lynch's Twin Peaks as a major influence, Nick "Bernard" Delap and Greta "Edith" Carroll work hard to build a woozy, textural world that pits crystalline synth-soul against some genuine Black Lodge darkness. In their short career together they've earned comparisons to fellow Brits like London Grammar and the xx, both of which are apt enough, though what Bernard + Edith do really feels a bit more renegade and underground than either of those bands.
No, they aren’t the sweet octogenarian couple a few houses down sat on their little stone bench in their backyard rose garden. Nay, Bernard + Edith are none other than the spry Manchester synthpop duo of Greta Carroll and Nick Delap. Peddling their wares via their antiquated middle names, the pair seem intent to confound on their debut LP, Jem, beyond their deceiving stage names, appearing in Arabic on the album’s cover, which features shot of three arms lain across a wavy surface of crushed blue velvet.
Trading under their middle names, Nick Delap and Greta Carroll are relative newcomers to Manchester’s burgeoning synthpop scene, their contemplative compositions placing them at the opposite end of the spectrum from Hurts’ hands-in-the-air anthems and LoneLady’s ear-bending grooves. In fact, one doesn’t even have to press play to understand what kind of record Jem is: on the album sleeve, Bernard + Edith is given in Arabic, and intertwining hands turn out to be those of Carroll’s mother and grandmother, the photograph taken shortly after the latter’s terminal cancer diagnosis. It points the way to a curious mix of exotic, Eastern sounds and themes of love, loss and mortality.