IDER – ‘shame’ review: understated and exploratory pop

Though the London duo's second album is no wild departure, it builds on the foundations of their debut and finds a stronger lyrical voice

Tempted by the lure of the algorithm – and various changes in the way that chart spots are calculated – countless albums over the last six years have suffered from excess fluff, often boasting way above 20 tracks in an attempt to bag as many song streams as possible.

It’s refreshing, then, that IDER swerved in the opposite direction with their second album ‘shame’ – a concise, eight-song album that clocks in at just under the half-hour mark. Largely, sticking to these tighter parameters has paid off for Megan Markwick and Lily Somerville, and the London-based duo’s latest inhabits a distinct sonic world: characterised by smooth, low-key pop, and skittering, cyclical melodies that call towards the dancefloor.

Originally, IDER planned to make ‘shame’ in Berlin before the arrival of the pandemic scuppered their plans after four weeks – but the freedom of their earliest writing sessions in the German city is still evident. Though the strains of dance music are subtle, the hints that make it through draw from the hazy, indistinct blur between night and dawn. As strange, echoing cries punctuate the rolling drums of ‘Cross Yourself’ – a hypnotic opener loaded with religious imagery – it sounds like the sun peeking over the wall of the smoking area.

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Warm brassy horns peal against jangling percussion on ‘cbb 2 b sad’ – an uncertain song that grapples with self-loathing via dark lyrical wit and specificity that sometimes felt missing from the debut. “Hate that I’m sitting on top of your body / Thinkin’ ‘bout somethin’ else / Fuckin’ with my eyes shut,” they sing in unison, “…Suddenly I hate the way you speak, the way you eat me out”. Though ‘Midland’s Guilt’ occasionally feels bogged down by clumsy political references (“We probably thought that we would just remain, remain” being one of them) it’s melodically stunning: a web of carefully-deployed autotune, rhythmic breaths of relief, and a less-is-more approach that recalls MUNA or The Japanese House at their most melancholy.

For their 2019 debut album ‘Emotional Education’, the group were signed to the prestigious label Glassnote (home to the likes of Chvrches and Phoenix) and apparently felt stifled by the pressure to deliver assured music over a short time span. Though ‘shame’ is no wild departure, its voice feels stronger. Cutting loose clearly suits IDER – this independent follow-up finds them free to pick apart all the complicated facets of shame in a slow-burning, smouldering fashion.

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Release date: August 6
Release label: IDER

 

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