Beware of technology and its substituting qualities. Observant musician Emma Lee Moss (Emmy The Great) has already demonstrated a skill for examining things. Initially evident in her question-mark jammed musical diaries (First Love and Virtue), this has subsequently aided her in writing articles for cultural websites The Guardian and Noisey. Referencing childhood pop culture (TV series Friends and pop group S Club 7), showing a knowledge of literature (Romeo and Juliet), to influential personal icons such as poet Sylvia Plath (‘Sylvia’) is a journalistic attribute. On third album Second Love, however, Moss’s mnemonic observations dwell into the ominous future of emotion being handicapped by the growing reliance upon machines.
A winter-coloured hologram of Moss efficiently fronts this concept. Making an appearance on the front cover of preceding EP S, in the music video for single ‘Swimming Pool’ and performing safety demonstration movements on the official Emmy The Great website. It could act as a commentary on the possibilities of live performance, where acts could regularly live on beyond the grave through a digital doppelgänger – something already experimented with 2Pac and Michael Jackson. Furthermore on what Moss calls a “bio-mechanical ballad” ‘Algorithm’, a software program automatically constructs a music video for Moss after being fed with promo inspiration. Although, the fact that the video is a haphazard mess lacking cohesive emotion shows technology’s faults and won’t make filmmakers fear for their jobs.
There’s a clever emptiness felt on the aforementioned ‘Swimming Pool’ through firstly the lyrics, which appear to be from the point of view of a hologram viewing the death of a “rich kid” but unable to copy human mourning. Furthermore via the spacious minimalism of the instrumental (echoey knocks, fluttery harp, and trademark shakers), which leaves the ghostly backing vocals and the duet between Moss and Wild Beasts bassist Tom Fleming at the forefront. To add weight to this vibe, Moss manipulates her vocals to occasionally stutter like a scratched compact disc (‘Constantly’, ‘Shadowlands’), to sound like a robot wired by The Buggles (‘Phoenixes’) and jumps on board with the female to male automatic deepening (‘Lost In You’).
A gifted songwriter, Moss communicates her techno-phobic anxiety. Fearing for her sanity on `Social Halo` and the laptop glowing insular of others on ‘Constantly’. On the internet-termed ‘Hyperlink’, Moss comments on modern cafes that contain “all those people tapping keys when once they would read magazines“, as sound clips snake their way through like annoying pop up banners from clickbait. A testament to the noise and distraction that an overload of information brings to modern society with Moss proclaiming that “love is the answer” to the chaos. A solution that would be more powerful, if it wasn`t for compatriot Savages megaphoning this idea back in January on Adore Life. Although, Emmy The Great has a history of borrowing lyrics for playful effect like on ‘First Love’ (Leonard Cohen’s ‘Hallelujah’), this might be purely bad timing. Still Emmy The Great’s conscientious plea for humanity and attentiveness to society is projected clearly.