Avalon Emerson: “& the Charm” Album Review – Former DJ shoe-ins with dreamy debut


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Rating: 4 out of 5.

Emerson drops the DJ booth altogether for a shot at cornerstone dream-pop.


Emerson is not your typical razor-sharp DJ. Carrying you to all corners of dance from blissed-out house to speed garage, her end-goal was never suited to the confines of a club. As much as the sweaty domiciles of Bay Area warehouse parties can be to the dopamine surges, this artists’ footing can always walk a bit further.

That is exactly what Avalon started to do. Inherently looking inwards during the lockdown outlets through the pandemic, her focus started to shift towards to making contemplative beats at home – the kind of music you feel like you’ve heard once before. A nostalgic temperament with a woozy sedation of avant-pop fit for the Japanese storefront, brings Emersons’ newest project & The Charm to 2023.

Suppose when parties stop altogether and you’re seeing the other side of a sunrise, you’ll start to begin exploring your probationary ark. An ark Avalon has seemingly grasped with both hands – and voice.

Emerson’s decision to duck out of dance is a brave choice – albeit a risky one – but we’ve come to understand the grave perils of artistry work failing miserably when the enthusiasm has all but dried up. Luckily, it’s rather the long hours of DJing that has dried up for Avalon and not the lucid songwriting we see here.


The glossy dream-pop terrain kicks off in triumphant colour and decadence with Sandrail Silhouette, led through the turnings with smatterings of string, and cloudy pads as open as the Arizona desert landscape Emerson grew up in. The pangs of alienating ’20s is blaring on this opener as Avalon denotes, “All my friends are having daughters / Beautiful, just like them of course.”

A more notable presence is Astrology Poisoning, a chirpy bird-call melody and snare hits that can seen cryogenically frozen from the ’80s and thawed out at request. The Stone offers a moment to ponder, a moment for introspection, as organs swell into Emersons’ soft voice as she looks back at all those DJing nights long forgotten, often melded into one, “waning taste of night / Life years of deja vu / And circuit parties too. If I were you / I’d skip the morning too.”

If you were not aware of the eclipsing circuit of LDN’s Printworks and the residences at NYC’s Nowadays, anyone who’s anyone would’ve just assumed that the likes of Avalon Emerson was a new figurehead in the world of floaty dream-pop, and not someone who has held the decks down at Berghain for ten years. It’s a transition she’s seemingly taken like water off a duck’s back. While it’s always good to move forward, it’s never a bad thing to saunter on into the home of what you’re used to. The sub-electronics of Dreamliner present licks of Avalon’s former stylings, all the while leading to a translucent journey from wormhole to wormhole, while the blaring supernova lights try to wake us up. The bright piano refrains nearing the end adds another palette to an otherwise bushy-tailed enterprise of creativity. Up next, we hear the underground groove vibes we’ve become all too aware in the seedy underlings of European rust factories. There’s a dark poetry to her otherwise unconventional lyrical work which adds to the sombre realities of what she’s talking about, “Leagues of a jealous ocean in / Between us now. The billboard ads here don’t sell divorce / $3.99.” Or how about her words spoken on jaggedy disco-funk Karaoke Song as she rolls her eyes at the mundane of small talk, “Are you better with your money / Did you find a brand new karaoke song. What are you watching / How is your dog. Where did the time go?”

Finally, the debut deliverance of & The Charm ends in hypnotic beauty with A Dam Will Always Divide. A 8:50 escapade of swampy drums, off-piste bass drones, guttural guitar scares making an all-around air soundscape very much floating on the clouds. It starts with much to prove and ends with very little to give anything else. This is Avalon laid bare, wizened and aware of the glimmerings in front of her. Oddly enough, it’s deeply comforting and… oddly familiar. That must be the nostalgia talking.

Emerson is set to embark on a North American tour starting in New York at familiar setting Nowadays at the start of May before heading West to LA later in the month at El Cid.

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