Sylvan Esso
  • Photo courtesy of Trekky Records
  • Sylvan Esso

Sylvan Esso shouldn’t sound this confident and cohesive yet. Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn, the two halves of the bright and purposeful Durham-based electro duo, have known each other for three years, but their collaboration didn’t become serious until last September, when Meath joined Sanborn for the last song of his daytime set during Raleigh’s Hopscotch Music Festival. They should still be figuring each other out, throwing out ideas—some jewels, some duds. Instead, they have arrived with a pair of near-perfect singles packed onto one 12-inch record.

“Play It Right” and “Hey Mami,” released this week by Chapel Hill’s Trekky Records, find the new outfit connecting multiple intensely popular strains without ever feeling forced. On the first, Sanborn retools the meaty throb he lays down as Made of Oak as the foundation for Meath’s intricate vocal lattices. (He also plays with Megafaun.) “Hey Mami” is both more minimal and more exciting, looping and layering Meath’s luxurious croon—previously displayed in the vocal-heavy Mountain Man—alongside booming bass and a barrage of clicks and clacks. It moves like tUnE-yArDs, but it’s executed with a steely, hip-hop-informed intensity that feels fresh. Both songs are streaming below.

With Sylvan Esso celebrating the release at The Pinhook this Saturday, we caught up with Sanborn and Meath to find out how they arrived at their promising sound and where they will go from here.