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  • Filed under: Review
  • 02/23/2012

Evy Jane Evy Jane

Vancouver duo Evy Jane has no business being this good. After all, there's nothing particularly innovative about the group's music. The plodding, purple-tinged beats sound like a toned-down version of what producers like Guido were turning out a couple of years back. Singer Evelyn Mason has an oddly seductive little voice, but she's not exactly a virtuoso and her vocals are literally all over these songs. At first glance, it would be easy to write off Evy Jane as a watered-down, pop-oriented take on what's being bandied about as "bass music." There's only one problem: the songs are actually quite good.

Lead track "Sayso"—you may remember the video we posted a few weeks ago—is the undeniable star here, a track underpinned by a stuttering bassline and gently clacking percussion. Some mellow synths and lightly warbling melodies work their way into the mix, but the tune puts Mason's vocals front and center. Harkening back to the soulful voices that haunted the best of '90s trip-hop, Mason breathily coos her way through the song's four-minute run time, anchoring the proceedings without ever getting too showy. Somehow, by holding back just a touch, Mason amplifies the weight of an already sexy song.

The record's other original offering, "Ohso," utilizes a similar formula, although Evy Jane layers a thick syrup of lurching synths over the track's off-kilter, hip-hop-flavored beat. The song also finds Mason belting it out a little more on the vocal front, but still reigning herself in enough to prevent things from sounding over the top. "Ohso" also finds Mason and her production partner, Jeremiah Klein, throughly manipulating and layering her vocals. That said, while many artists operating in a similar sonic sphere automatically resort to furious chopping and mindless pitch-shifting, Evy Jane largely leaves Mason's vocal tones intact, smartly realizing that the beauty of her vocals is one of the strongest elements at work in the duo's music.

Evy Jane also includes a number of remixes. Vancouver mainstay Max Ulis tackles "Ohso," interestingly layering Mason's voice over a clacking techno 4/4 and folding in a thick, dubstep-indebted bassline. Taal Mala, another Vancouver artist, takes "Sayso" even further into the dark and murky atmospheres of classic dubstep, even utilizing some subtly wobbling bass sounds. The final two remixes, from Dutch producer Julien Mier and another Vancouver resident, Andy Dixon, are only available on the digital release. The former finds the Dutch producer slowly morphing "Sayso" into a spastic, juke-influenced workout, while the latter is a less effective, Auto-Tune-dominated effort that attempts to transform "Ohso" into a glossy pop track.

That small misstep notwithstanding, Evy Jane is an impressive first salvo from this Vancouver duo. At present, the outfit is nimbly walking a line that balances pop tendencies with some of the best elements of low-end-oriented electronic music. Only time will tell if Evy Jane can continue to move ahead without tumbling to one side or the other.

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