School of Night is the solo project of The Antlers’ Darby Cicci, who describes this EP as ‘futuristic church music, mixed with sugary pop’. That seems about right, although it also sounds a bit like a daydreaming alien, or a luminous world in a child’s video game: soft-edged multi-instrumental synth pop, with snapping and crackling thrown in. There are traces of the Beta Band in the echoey vocals and understatedly complex musicianship, especially in second track ‘Doktor’; ‘Fire Escape’ is all smooth, groovy, spaced-out brass, while ‘Play Dead’ reminds me a little more of Radiohead as the plaintive vocals move into the foreground.
It’s a slowly drifting, shifting EP, mostly in a wholly enjoyable way, although I find the final song ‘Vacuum’ a bit dreary. ‘Play Dead’ is my favourite track, with the clearest lyrics and the most casually-dramatic hook of a chorus, followed by plucked strings, giving it definition. Cicci’s skill is never in doubt – multi-instrumental with a light touch – but I especially warm to the filmic edge of this song. School of Night is a beautiful piece of work that should please fans of The Antlers, although it has something in common with more laid-back-experimental artists like Julia Holter, too.
Words: Becky Varley–Winter