Buoyed in the sultry air of subconscious, At Home draws wispy strands from pastel shades and plaits them into rope – not the sort to strangle or haul, but to guide towards moments half-remembered and landscapes fully-formed. Their flairs combined, the pairing of producer RΠЯ and singer Sarah P deftly explore the wavering relationship between the spiritual and physical; how we use palpable entities as coping mechanisms against internal manifestations of fear, desire and sorrow. This much is achieved implicitly, through lofty compositions and abyssal beats that’ll make your stomach blush. The blunt force of blatancy that could bog down such illustrations is kept at bay; yet that isn’t to say that Keep Shelly in Athens are keen to shy away from grandeur.
The torrents of synth textures glow vividly without channelling the superlative enormousness of M83, a bustling natural ambience to carry the breezy melodies. Bombast is attempted, though, on opener ‘Time Exists Only To Betray Us’, lined with impassioned pitch-shifted shouts and punctuated by a bellowing beat. It ends up falling flat positioned next to ‘Oostende’, which ought to have taken the reins instead, instilling the sort of desperate yearning that reduces you to window-watching and duvet-clenching. The popping, echoed beat is fuel for Sarah P’s vocal melody, striving skyward and insisting that “maybe tomorrow, we’ll shorten this distance”.
Falling further into the chasms of nostalgia, ‘Recollection’ survives on breathed notes and a tension mustering bass throb. RΠЯ’s production provokes a bodily upheaval, the palpitations forcing sounds to pass from ear to ear, delivering the urgency of hurtling towards the ground with the subtlety of a loose hair-induced shiver. Completing this trifecta of emotional resonance is ‘Flyway’, built upon jittery foundations and driven by diligent electronic hi-hats. Sarah sings more with the air escaping her lungs than her voice box, hinting at resignation despite the cry of “God, they run so fast. God! God!” Her voice peters out, to be replaced by a robotic marching chant, muddying the pristine waters.
As can be ascertained from KSIA’s earlier material, such as the tender ebb of ‘In Love With Dusk‘, the duo are at least some-parts familiar with the colourful terrains that they tread. It’s not until ‘Room 14 (I’m Fine)’, though, that we are afforded a glimpse at something that seems unaware of that ethereal state. Stepping away from this astral location, ’14’ is grounded in mournful reality. It may share the same fundamental aesthetic as that which precedes it, but with the inclusion of a weeping synth guitar and faint sirens, topped off with the mumbled vocal delivery, it’s steered in a different direction. This diversion is only short lived, with ‘DIY’ pulling us back to the cloudy, contoured landscapes, rousing in spite of its sinister chatters and pierced with tinny fanfare. The atmosphere is still pastel-coloured, but with the trepidation comes a sense that the ground is shifting.
Looking past the disengaging audience samples on ‘Hover’, we fade out with ‘Back To Kresnas Street’, another song that tiptoes the line between reality and subconscious. Nodding to the neighbourhood of Kypseli from which the duo takes its name, ‘Kresnas Street’ sweeps by with slowed reminiscence, further reflecting the album’s sentimentality. It ambles to an early conclusion, serving to linger on and zoom right out. By and large, At Home presents those half-remembered moments under a veil of thin fog. It supposes that the feelings and sensations captured in memories last longer than the physical locations, so it swaps them for its own. The lasting impression is that of a lamented beauty; when the moments we preserve in our mind lose vividity, we must add our own.