Foliage & Andrew Younker – Split EP

Andrew Younker and Manuel Joseph Walker (AKA Foliage) have charted a similar course in the world of bedroom produced indie pop so perhaps it was only a matter of time before their paths crossed. Both released well received albums this year filled with hazey lo-fi jangle pop and sighing synths. After Andrew Younker released his album “Well Wishes” in April he was contacted by Manuel who shared his appreciation for the record. They discovered they were both fans of each other’s work and were inspired to collaborate together. The two multi-instrumentalists/producers decided to each write two new tracks and cover one of the other’s songs for this split release that touches on themes of love, death, appreciation, taking others for granted and eternal life.

Foliage resumes where he left off on his most recent album III with “Forever”, a song propelled by electronic drums and a sparking guitar that seems to bounce off the beats. Walker’s vocals are buried in the mix with it’s gentle melody countering an otherwise upbeat start to the EP. “Be Transparent” is a euphoric rush with New Order styled drums you’ll struggle not to dance along to. Walker laments an attention seeking friend’s bad behavior, urging them to be less insecure and transparent. By the song’s end Walker seems resigned singing “I thought you were different, no”, nevertheless the track’s upbeat groove pushes on to an abrupt end. For his cover Foliage chose Andrew Younker‘s song “Nervous to Exist Around You” and stays largely faithful to the original. Foliage’s version tones down some of the Younker‘s more dream pop tendencies which gives more clarity to some of the songs more comical lyrics like being embarrassed about buying anime cartoons and calling a therapist before starting a friendship.

The second half is made up of Andrew Younker‘s songs beginning with the iridescent synth pop of “Thankful“. The optimism in Younker’s singing is matched by shimmering synthesizers and his frenzied bass playing. The song seems to be an antidote to the previous “Nervous to Exist Around You” where the same character now is comfortable in this relationship and singing “you make it easy to be myself”. It’s a refreshing change from the genre’s sometimes cliched lovelorn writing and melancholy singing. “Unhook the Stars” is more of a slow burner than its predecessor, unveiling a pleasant refrain buoyed by a cushion of gentle synths. Younker‘s Foliage cover is my favourite track off his recent album “Value“. Younker‘s version takes Foliage‘s minimalist production and fills it with dense layers of keyboards and synths, often adding delicate melodies you might not notice at first listen. The vocals are also draped in a thick reverb not found on the original which adds a level of warmth and depth to Walker‘s lyrics. Most of Andrew Younker‘s songs run at a more brisk pace than this, but covering this song forces him to take his time and it brings out the best in both his singing and production skills. It would be great if this was the beginning of more collaboration between these two artists because they share so many commonalities and their styles compliment each other very well. For now, it’s exciting enough to hear these two rising stars try out each other’s songs and offer two new songs coming off the back of this year’s recent albums.

Highlights : Thankful, Be Transparent, Value
For Fans of: Orchid Mantis, Lost Film, Video Age

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