Single of the week: Loma – Ocotillo review

by Philip Moss

Emily Cross’ album, Cross Record, was one of the most thoroughly absorbing listens of last year. Like its sleeve, which saw the songwriter alone in the middle of a lake, it was collection of fuzzy experimentation, DIY sound collages and smattered with devine pop melodies. Having been rumoured to have put Loma to bed, their surprise return is an announcement that carries both excitement and intrigue.

Different to Cross’ solo output, Loma’s self titled 2018 debut is a less synthetic, more meditative experience. Bigger in scope and built on strong rhythmic foundations, it has a shared sonic field to that of Talking Heads’ Fear of Music, which clearly pricked producer, Brian Eno’s attention, as he too will feature on the upcoming record – Don’t Shy Away – having worked with the band on album closer, Homing.

Although dug from the same pulsating ground as their debut, Ocotillo is a deeper excavation – its guitars are heavier and growl with more distortion, the saxophones don’t just flourish, but come over in tidal waves, and the piece, as a whole, feels like a loop that could swirl – ebbing and flowing – in a Talk Talk-like eternity. But the biggest change comes in Cross’ voice. Brought right to the front of the mix, the hazy reverbs that have previously smothered her have evaporated, displaying a blooming clarity that’s not previously been seen from the songwriter. This is an unexpected, deeply rewarding return.

Don’t Shy Away will be released through Sub Pop Records on 23rd October.

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