What Now

Few bands break through with the hype and deliverance that Sylvan Esso had with its self-titled debut in 2014. The North Carolina duo seemed like the perfect pairing: Amelia Meath with her flawless, honeyed vocals and Nick Sanborn’s densely woven beats spinning hooks in all directions. The result was electro-pop sensibility at its best. The pressure of a follow-up had to be monstrous, but Sylvan Esso’s sophomore offering lives up to the anticipation. What Now is not bigger; it’s wider. The duo’s found its footing and has more sonic room to explore. Songs like “Radio” and “Song” deliver a stronger punch, both with more of a vocal ferocity from Meath, and Sanborn’s beats stacked a little thicker and quicker. The closer, “Rewind,” has a fantastic percussive clunkiness to it that’s the base of its groove and charm, as though it were improvised. And “The Glow” is almost dissonant with its laser-beam lead, but its perky beat and Meath’s pristine sounds keep it in a tight pop line. The breakthrough continues.