It’s been over four years since Are We There, and Sharon Van Etten is back with a blinder of a record, swapping the guitar out for keys, dirty synthesisers, and dark, pulsing bass lines. Remind Me Tomorrow is the fresh start we all needed for 2019.
Although her last album was released in 2014, this doesn’t mean that she hasn’t been busy. Whilst sporadically writing Remind Me Tomorrow in any little nooks of time that she could find, she also starred in Netflix’s ‘The OA’, brought David Lynch’s on-stage revival of ‘Twin Peaks’ to life with her music, as well as composing her first film score for Katherine Dieckmann’s film ‘Strange Weather’. Not to mention becoming a mother and obtaining a psychology degree.
Though her sound is somewhat grittier than her previous work, her songs still maintain a sense of tenderness. The album kicks off with I Told You Everything, a spacious song about opening up about herself to someone, heavily relying on sustained piano chords and Sharon’s smoky, smouldering voice. The song slowly builds upon itself, resulting in layers and layers of dreaminess; a strong start to the album, and it only gets better from here. The next track No One’s Easy To Love juxtaposes the previous song with a healthy dosage of punchy sampled beats, picking up the pace and plunging us deep into a pool of viscous, fuzzy goodness. The tinkering piano balances out the darkness of the bass, giving the track a celestial feel to it.
Comeback Kid, one of the singles she released, was originally written as a piano ballad, but after approaching producer John Congleton armed with Suicide, Portishead and Nick Cave’s Skeleton Tree as references and stating she “didn’t want it to be pretty”, it was amped up into a more gutsy, menacing track; her vocals dialled up a couple of notches with a rawness that could be compared to early PJ Harvey, but still very much her own. Jupiter 4, another recent single, draws us in with its oscillating, menacing synth bass, throbbing throughout the song like a strong pulse. The album ends with Stay, a haunting cocktail of breathy vocals and instruments brimming with spacey, swirling effects, a perfect end to the album.
Remind Me Tomorrow is a gorgeously crafted piece of art, with Sharon’s striking vocals drenched in reverb, the minimal yet dynamic arrangement of the instruments and synthesisers, and the general pace of the album altogether; the space in her arrangements allow for space to breathe, and elicits a meditative vibe. Sharon Van Etten’s new dark synth-pop sound is ambitious and alluring, and is guaranteed to have you listening to this album on repeat.