After the release of Azure Ray’s 2018 EP, Waves, on the duo’s newest home, Flower Moon Records, it was only a matter of time before a full-length album materialized. Well, friends, that time has arrived with the release of Remedy. The new record from Marina Taylor and Orenda Fink not only marks the pair’s first proper studio LP in over a decade, but it also celebrates twenty years since the world was introduced to Azure Ray’s brand of American dream pop.
With a subtle wash of the gentlest synths and a patiently played piano, “Swallowing Swords” opens Remedy. “When did you leave home? Where are you going? Will you know it when you see it? How does it end?” Marina and Orenda harmonize lovingly during the song’s chorus. The track is a beautiful opener that imagines Wilson Phillips as the harbingers of post-apocalyptic restoration. Remedy’s single, “Phantom Lover”, starts deceptively as a sexy slow burner until it soars gorgeously during the chorus of “Baby, it’s alright,” and then never looks back. Acoustic guitars feature prominently during the album’s title track. The song marks Remedy’s halfway point and it works well as a momentary break from the largely synth-based production of its predecessors.
Remedy’s second half begins with “Desert Waterfall.” The song differentiates itself nicely with strings and subtle horns as well as a synthetic beat pulsing along underneath. The record takes a turn toward the dramatic with “The Swan.” Here, the strings return and the duo manage to follow every dynamic twist, bearing down vocally in appreciable emphasis of the song’s obvious solemnity. Remedy is concluded with “I Don’t Want To Want To”, a plea for a final chance at love in a fading relationship. “Could love keep us from changing? Could love keep us from fucking this up?” the duo sing during each chorus before the track finally morphs into something that resembles as close as an Azure Ray track can to a dance song, repeating, “Baby I don’t want to, want to give it up.”
Azure Ray’s latest isn’t perfect. There are moments when songs are so similar to their neighbor in tone and tempo that casual listeners may have a hard time identifying where one stops and the other begins. Still, Taylor and Fink sound lovely throughout, and producer Brandon Walters does an excellent job of never downplaying the importance of the duo’s vocals. All told, Remedy proves Azure Ray still have a lot to offer. Longtime fans and budding aficionados of the dream pop genre will not be disappointed.