Okay, I’ve been told I have a particular weakness for electronic music duos with female vocals, particularly those from Toronto. (In fact, I’m at work on a book about Martha and the Muffins, the prototype for this sub-subgenre.) But that doesn’t diminish the impact of Etiquette. Their single “Outside In” wraps placid vocals, water-colored keyboards, percussive minimalism and melodic twang up into a refreshing slice of rainy-day introspection.
Etiquette release their debut album Reminisce next week, but they’re no newcomers to the scene. Vocalist Julie Fader has recorded indie-folk and played as a supporting musician on other people’s projects for almost a decade; her partner Graham Walsh is producer and founder of frantic dance-rock instrumentalists Holy Fuck. Etiquette presents a completely new direction that Fader, Walsh and their similarly subdued comrades take up with confidence and skill. For all its stillness and melancholy, Reminisce is concise in its emotional statements; these songs never meander. Go ahead, call it dream-pop, chillwave, hypnagogic pop — cite their musical forbears (Air, Everything But The Girl, Beach House) — but don’t be distracted by the references. Just listen and give in to this delicious bummer of a sound.
A sociology professor living in upstate New York, Leonard Nevarez is patiently waiting until his kids are old enough for a family roadtrip to Maryland Deathfest. He blogs at musicalurbanism.org and is writing a book about Martha & the Muffins and the late 70s/early 80s downtown Toronto music scene.