Release Date: Sep 17, 2013
Record label: Cascine
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Electronic, Downbeat
Keep Shelly in Athens don’t wear their hearts on their sleeves (spoiler: “Madmen Love” isn’t filled with endearments), but the Greek duo do keep their influences visible. Infused with the passion of the ’90s (“Hover” in particular owes every strand of its DNA to the era), this debut full-length is a must-listen for every trip-hop dreamer. Hung on the haunting vocals of frontwoman Sarah P, At Home is no mere retread, but a full-fledged genre renaissance.
Keep Shelly In Athens’ name is a pun on the Kypseli neighborhood in the Greek capital and their debut LP At Home often takes the tone of a homesick tour diary; you can’t help but feel that the album title is a wish or a mantra. And yet, while I’m willing to admit that I’ve never been to Greece, I have been to New York City, and for all of its superficial hometown pride, At Home actually suffers from the same criticisms as post-Giuliani Gotham: it wants to remind visitors of a cutting edge, artistic vitality fostered in the 1980s while keeping the attendant danger at a very safe distance. At Home’s mid-fi synth production begs the usual descriptors: swooning, soft-focus, the sort of thing often considered “dream-pop” for the way it reminds people of the things they use to achieve a waking dream state: sex, drugs, druggy sex, sexy drugs.
On the EPs leading up to this, their debut album At Home, the Greek duo Keep Shelly in Athens built a sound out of cast-off parts from electronic eras gone by. The Orb's dubby ambience, the slinking beats and blue atmospheres of trip-hop, lushly sculptured synths taken from an Enya deep cut...these were the building blocks to which the mysterious duo added soaring female vocals and came up with something both quite familiar but somehow new. The duo kept all these elements, adding a few welcome additions (sparkly Cocteau Twins-y grandeur, more fleshed-out songs) and a few they should have a taken a pass on (the unfortunate flashes of dubstep, some over the top vocal emoting).
Shelly doesn’t exist. Let’s get that out of the way. Named after a neighborhood the Grecian duo grew up in, called Kypseli, Keep Shelly in Athens met through a mutual friend in 2010. Someone thought they were being witty, but the pun seems to have gotten lost in translation. A producer-musician ….
Greek duo Keep Shelley in Athens (a play on the district Kypseli, in Athens) have slowly burned up to this point, with a couple of EPs warmly received over the past couple of years now leading us to this debut release, where the blogosphere buzz ends and they become a fully functioning act of high reputation. Bunching them in with the chillwave set is to do them a disservice; they do share similar aesthetics – the smoky vibes, minimal dubstep infused beats, washes of atmospheric synths and complex electronic – but beneath the complex studio production, there lies a beating pop heart. Tracks such as ‘Recollection’ and ‘Flyway’ are indicative of what Keep Shelley in Athens do best; mid-tempo electronic pop, with driving dance beats and sullen synths drenched in waves of sunshine blown in from the Aegean sea.