Into the WavesAlbum |
I don't think any of us expected this.
As one-half of Brooklyn duo Cliffie Swan (formerly known as Lights), Sophia Knapp has largely trafficked in a beguilingly odd mix of post-punk churn, R&B dance hooks and psychedelic experimentation. All of which makes the pure pop appeal of Knapp's solo debut Into the Waves that much stranger. And let's be clear: by "pure pop," I'm talking about classic-era Fleetwood Mac and Lionel Richie's post-Commodores solo hits. Even more so than Destroyer's Kaputt, Into the Waves is an unabashed love letter to a certain brand of sophisticated adult contemporary '80s pop: you know, the stuff that's always playing in the background at the supermarket during your late-night ice cream runs. It's startling how accurately Knapp captures the machine-tooled polish of that sound, and heartening that she doesn't appear to be trying to subvert it or make any kind of ironic commentary: it really feels like Knapp genuinely likes this kind of music. And while most of the songs lack the kind of indelible hooks that's kept their forebears playing in the frozen food aisles for over two decades -- the airy closer "In Paper" is the most instantly memorable tune -- Knapp's ice-pure voice is perfectly suited for them. Only on "Spiderweb" and "Weeping Willow," when Knapp's labelmate Bill Callahan plays the Peabo Bryson to her Roberta Flack, is the listener jolted back to the fact that this album came out on Drag City in 2012 instead of Geffen in 1986.