Release Date: Oct 16, 2012
Record label: The Ship
Like catching up with an old friend, it’s a welcome delight to re-encounter Earlimart— even if you regret not having stayed in touch all these years. Principal players Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray didn’t drop off the face of the planet, having hooked up with the like-minded Jason Lytle of Grandaddy for their Admiral Radley affair. But it’s a joy to hear their sorrowful whispers and swirling, multi-instrumental collages after a four-year absence.
The stretch between System Preferences and Earlimart's previous album, Hymn and Her, was the longest gap between the band's releases, but in that time Aaron Espinoza remained busy in the studio, producing records for Ben Gibbard, the Henry Clay People, and Port O'Brien. Also, a collaboration with Grandaddy's Jason Lytle for Admiral Radley's I Heart California in 2010 played a big part in shaping the band's new direction. Even more so than before, comparisons with Grandaddy are unshakable on System Preferences, and as the techie Sophtware Slump-ish title suggests, electronic atmospherics are incorporated with Earlimart's usual dreamy, lovelorn sound.
Earlimart were weirder once. A decade or so back, former scrappers Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray set out to reshape their sharp-edged sound into something finer, more regal. After paring themselves down to a duo on 2007's Mentor Tormentor, the entire operation's grown only more streamlined: freer from detours, less and less fond of dissonance, nary a note out of place or a chorus left to run on too long.
Some four years and a Jason Lytle-featuring project later, Aaron Espinoza and Ariana Murray return to Earlimart, ready to follow up 2008’s Hymn and Her. With System Preferences, their seventh full-length to date, the Los Angeles based duo crafts midtempo pop that’s sometimes folky, sometimes dreamy, but always warmly melodic. Earlimart’s lineup trimmed down to a duo just before their last album, though they simultaneously expanded upon their style by exploring new sonic pastures to accompany their familiar style, a trend they’ve yet to abandon.