Perfect Body is a delicate filigree of an album. Despite their tender age, this is already Mermaidens second album, a swift sequel to last year’s debut, Undergrowth. On Perfect Body, the New Zealand trio tackle themes of personal and artistic growth as well as the acceptance of maturity.
Formed whilst singers and guitarists Gussie Larkin and Lily West were still at school, one can only assume that they were the weird kids in the class. But how those kids come good. Perfect Body has plenty of ‘goosepimple moments’. The title track and opener begins with an enigmatic guitar. It is coupled with another that picks away like it is stitching skin. The vocals are deep, breathy, almost spoken. The drums, hollow. It is, in fact, quite perfect.
Larkin and West have contrasting vocal styles and the songs balance these ranges with ease. ‘Sunstore’, for instance, is similar to Anna Calvi. It has a lolloping guitar riff and a magical vocal that sounds like a spell is being cast over a body of water. There’s something almost transcendent about the music that is quite in contrast to their primary and ice-cream coloured clothes. I can quite believe that some of their tracks have mystical properties.
Many of the songs are into five minutes and beyond. They are multi-faceted and it will be the type of album that will reap rewards every time you listen. There are also some decidedly darker tracks. ‘Smothering Possession’ is about taking someone’s teeth and making a shrine, sinking them deep into the earth. It has a surprising sense of mortality coming from ones so young, ‘While the tides swallow your ancient body.’
‘Lizard’ focuses on longing and escape, ‘Take me to a place where it’s echoing through the hollow hills.’ This track has some striking imagery, ‘I’ll curl around you like a lizard tail.’ It also reaches into the surreal colourscape of psych, ‘Flesh is the colour of the river.’ Unsettling stuff.
Perfect Body has very clear Warpaint moments such as ‘Mind Slow’. A true atmospheric piece in that it is much slower and contemplative than the others. ‘I keep my mind slow’ is repeated to the point where it begins to lose its meaning. The brooding guitar tiptoes behind like a cartoon villain in a black cape.
The final track ‘Fade’ shares these sentiments, capturing the blissfulness of gazing out of the window at the drizzle. There isn’t much of it but it drenches you just as the self-doubt does in this track. It is a perturbing place to end the album and leaves you ready to run back round to start the helter-skelter ride all over again.
Perfect Body will be released on 4th August 2017 through Flying Nun Records.