An enjoyable, potent album to help close out the year.
The title to Remember the Silver is pulled from a phrase in a book on UFO abductions. It’s the silver of an alien saucer that a woman holds onto to recall how real that experience was, even when she’s pressured by others to believe that it didn’t happen. Emily Yacina applies the same philosophy to her own life on her new album, hanging onto the palpable moments of her recent years. Written as she was leaving school, ending a relationship and starting work at a non-profit, the record is filled with songs about life at a crossroads.
The transition from the familiarity and routine of school to the wide-open world of early adulthood is a tricky one to navigate. It’s expected for one’s life to be completely in order by graduation, even though that’s the exception rather than the rule. Yacina brings forward the stress of figuring out life on the dreamy “Siren Song,” with spacey, echoing guitar chords enveloping the track like fog coming off the ocean. “I’m just fuckin’ around New York,” Yacina sings alongside touches of funky brass. But she also refuses to succumb to others’ expectations, silencing the music to emphasize her voice as she sings “Go easy, my heart’s not a drum.” “Bleachers” brings a similar perspective, with unfiltered guitar chords taking the lead as Yacina beautifully sings about being paralyzed by choice. “Time is a silk web tangled in pleas/ I choke to move on,” but she also knows that “Only my vision can set me free.”
As people go through the upheaval of early adulthood, circumstances can drive them apart, as could their changing personalities. Yacina explores both issues on Remember the Silver. The most effective of these tunes is “Arcades & Highways,” its easygoing tone masking the pain of her lover’s imminent departure. She brings wonderful stanzas to express her mix of passion and sadness, like “Take a deep breath, take it all in, mark your memory” or “I surrender all of me/ To the seconds in your car when I felt everything.” “Secret Drawer” takes place further down the line, as Yacina wonders where her former partner is now, her vocals gliding over a muffled rolling rhythm. The melancholy “Better Off” finds Yacina questioning her call to end another relationship, the argument in her mind put through the speakers. “My delusion is soaking through/ Makes my whole world wet with the idea of you/ It’s not true, it’s not true, it’s not true,” she sings, her voice shot through with a mix of self-doubt and persistence.
Opportunities for new love also arise, both desired and unwanted. In the haze of “Only,” she turns down romantic advances, singing “Desexualize my soul” and “I can only be your friend.” The sensual pulse of “Stephanie” shows the other side of this coin, with Yacina longing for another while backed by an almost soft-krautrock percussion and taut guitar strings.
Like on “Stephanie,” Yacina succeeds the most musically when she fuses infectious melodies to intriguing arrangements that stand out from the usual dream-pop fare. “Talk Talk Talk” powers through with a fun dance tempo. “Gleaming” boasts the catchiest melody on the album, her near-rambling vocals surrounded with shining, atmospheric synths. But other tracks don’t have enough going for them to garner notice. “That’s Where I See You” defuses its sparkling synths a bit too much, with hints of melodies too slight and faded to catch your attention. “Funny Timing” sounds like a rehash of other tunes on the album.
Despite some weak points, the strength of Yacina’s vocals, mostly alluring arrangements and thematic focus make Remember the Silver an enjoyable, potent album to help close out the year. As we move into a new decade and into the next stages of our lives, Yacina shows that while there’s trepidation, there’s also opportunity and evolution to be had as we traverse down the next path.