Swedish one-(wo)man-band El Perro Del Mar (aka Sarah Assbring) makes a brow-raising return to the music scene with this, the first official single from the act’s forthcoming Pale Fire.
Following in the huge style shifting lines of preceding effort Love Is Not Pop, the amazing 2009 set that had El Perro ditching the quaint, ’60’s-pop-influenced twee of her earlier work for more robust, multi-layered production, Fire lead “Walk On By” sees Assbring once again experimenting with her sound, this time planting her signature sad-eyed presence in a chilled-out jazzy-cool setting reminiscent of late 80’s/ early 90’s Brit-soul.
As a sexy brew of shuffling drums, funky bass burbles and brief blurts of sax nod to the sophisticated R&B of Sade and certain vocal melodies trigger memories of the Adamski/ Seal clubfloor monster “Killer”, Sarah strikes a convincing low-key soul diva pose here, her tiny coos taking on the form of a smoky pout as she melts into the role of a woman trying her damnedest to convince herself of the benefit of giving single-dom an extended whirl after experiencing one too many romantic disappointments.
“Solitude’s my best friend/ The only one that sees me cry/ It tells me I will never need another man…,” Sarah sings, the lingering sting of her last bout with boy-delivered heartache heard in her every forlorn note. Yet, for all the pain-evading this path promises, Sarah never sounds too settled with the idea, her performance tempered with the uncertainty of whether she even has the strength to “keep (her) head up” and avoid making a quick dip back into the dating pool to continue her search for that ever-elusive great beau.
This internal tug of war fails to resolve by “Walk On By”‘s end (those “inner voice”-as-drill sergeant “Better not wonder/ Better not cry/ Better not wander/ Better walk by” interjections on the fade-out seem to indicate a woman not entirely moved to simply “turn [her] heart off”), but leaving things off on such an ambiguous note only adds to the track’s mesmerizing beauty.
Fingers crossed that El Perro spends a little more time indulging in this seductive new sound when Pale Fire drops in it’s entirety. It’s due in the States on November 13th via The Control Group.