AOTY 2019

What Now

Sylvan Esso - What Now
Critic Score
Based on 20 reviews
2017 Ratings: #291 / 725
User Score
Based on 120 ratings
2017 Ratings: #277
April 28, 2017 / Release Date
LP / Format
Loma Vista / Label
Indietronica / Genres
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
A.V. Club

Where Sylvan Esso collected some great songs, What Now feels like a statement of purpose, a duo stretching into the shape it was meant to be and bringing it all purposefully together.

90
GIGsoup

Electric synth alt-folk-pop funk duo mix Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn score and dispense another slick and gang of stand-alone singles.

80
Slant Magazine

With What Now, the band celebrates infectious, accessible music as a diversion from the mundane, as a way to give voice to universal feelings, even as they warn against its ability to distract from genuine expression in favor of manufactured sentiment.

80
Clash

‘What Now’ seethes with magnitude focusing on the next stages of progression, as we try to plot our next route in a challenging existence. This album deserves your attention and is a perfect example of a group accomplishing and exceeding their full potential.

80
The Line of Best Fit

The cool café-ready vibes have been replaced by weightier production that’s suited more for the club; techno-inspired beats intricately and lusciously built atop one another.

80
Exclaim!

Sylvan Esso have produced another, more polished product: the band seem more surefooted, the vocals loftier, the production shinier, the audience (it's sure to attract) broader.

80
The 405
Conservative, but damned satisfying. The influences are distinct and many, but when filtered through Sylvan Esso’s innate esotericism and Grade A proficiency in mood and tempo, they become their own beast.
80
Northern Transmissions
Growing on you as you listen, this record is one that definitely hooks on first listen but takes time to crawl under your skin. While almost too weird initially, it is too intriguing to put down and makes for an emotionally and sonically unique beast by the end, and will have you clamouring for repeats thanks to how much detail the duo put into their music.
75
Consequence of Sound

It swings between biting and sublime, with occasional moments of triteness; but when Meath and Sanborn get it right, they get it very, very right.

75
Under The Radar

What Now is a performance of musical ballroom dancing; an impressive demonstration of compatible fluency in artistic languages of partners, and routinely with the harmony that nearly makes the heart ache. Evidently, they bring the best out of each other.

74
Paste

On this new record Meath and Sanborn dispense with many of the freeing and expansive sounds of their debut, opting, with varying degrees of success, to play instead with feelings of tightness, darkness and enclosure.

72
Pitchfork

The sophomore album from the electronic pop duo offers a biting, withering take on pop music, full of crisp humor while still finding real moments of tenderness.

70
Sputnikmusic

What Now is an album best experienced privately. This feels odd, given producer Nick Sanborn’s excellent ear for effusive electronic hooks, but vocalist Amelia Meath is a master of taking the extroversion out of pop music and bending all that remains inward.

60
The Skinny

Mostly, What Now is intent on being bigger and brasher than its predecessor, perhaps to avoid politely slipping into the background quite so easily.

60
AllMusic

What Now is less eccentrically atmospheric than its predecessor, but their boisterous energy is intoxicating enough to win you over, and their sense of fun is palpable.

60
The Guardian

As a collection, What Now is peppy, confident and a little scathing but, like its title, it feels slightly too open-ended to make a real splash.

60
God Is in the TV
As a whole, Sylvan Esso don’t have the most unique sound ... However, it’s when Sylvan Esso embrace their hipster side they can be attention-grabbing intriguing.
VinylHound83
50
I like her voice but I must be getting old because I just don't get this type of music anymore. Cotton candy repetitive lyrics and computers doing all the work. Moving on to something with more depth.
musicmagpie55
65
I do think this is an improvement to their sound from the previous album. While still a little forgettable and quite repetitive, the hooks are stronger, and a better grasp of pop music subverts the gimmick of folksy electronic music I didn't find very convincing. I still like both of them as musicians and performers (it is a super fun live show), so I am hoping they continue to develop their sound into something with a little more teeth.
DalekTurret32
90
Sound 89
The Glow 87
Die Young 92
Radio 97
Kick Jump Twist 93
Song 90
Just Dancing 96
Signal 92
Slack Jaw 84
Rewind 87

Top 5:

5. Signal
4. Die Young
3. Kick Jump Twist
2. Just Dancing
1. Radio
CheapandLethal
75
Decent
WildChameleon
55
I know sylvan esso throught a duo with Tune-yards during Nikki Nack tour (this version of rocking chair was awesome !)

Despite a charming voice, everything seem so lazy. There's something but this isn't exploited. Too bad !
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Decade Lists

#49/The A.V. Club

Track List

  1. Sound
  2. The Glow
  3. Die Young
  4. Radio
  5. Kick Jump Twist
  6. Song
  7. Just Dancing
  8. Signal
  9. Slack Jaw
  10. Rewind
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Added on: February 23, 2017