Azure Ray: Waves EP

After a six-year hiatus, dream pop duo Azure Ray have returned with a short EP titled Waves. The fifteen-minute album consists of two new songs, the first of which, “Palindrome”, cleverly bookends Waves, appearing in its full form at the beginning of the record, then reemerging as a reprise at the EP’s end. “Palindrome” is a lovely number that features members Maria Taylor and Orenda Fink harmonizing beautifully over lush strings, piano, and a looped guitar pattern played in reverse.

“Last Summer in Omaha” follows and is the only other new original material included. Here things shift into a more wistful mood. The strings are still present, but they’re used to punctuate lyrics that have the ladies mourning the passage of time and the futility of success in all its forms. “As my friends start their families, I should be happy, but I’m grieving,” the duo sing pointedly.

The mood shifts again as Taylor and Fink offer an upbeat take on R.E.M.’s “Nightswimming”. A quick beat and a sporadic bass are the only instruments accompanying the ladies’ reverb-heavy vocals as they harmonize over their own oohs and ahs. Lastly, just before the aforementioned reprise, Azure Ray cover themselves on a folky version of their 2003 song “Hold On Love”. The update works nicely as the atmospheric, airy instrumentation of the original is replaced with acoustic guitar and a harmonica.

Waves is the gentlest of returns, delivering only two new songs on an EP that lasts barely a quarter of an hour. Still, the new tracks here are quite good and although Waves is short, it does do a decent job reminding listeners of the duo’s strengths. That Taylor and Fink’s vocals still sound as gorgeous as they did fifteen years ago is an encouraging indication of things to come.

Rating: 7.0/10

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