Duo Keep Shelly In Athens hail from Athens, Greece and have been releasing music since 2010. Now I’m Ready is only their second album but they’ve pumped out over a half dozen 7″s, 12″s, and cassette singles, so they’re far from being unproductive. In fact, if you add up all of the songs on those EPs and singles you’d have a few albums.
Produced by RΠЯ’s, who’s one half of the duo, the songs on Now I’m Ready do not easily lend themselves to genre labels. The duo have been called everything from chillwave to shoegaze to dream pop, and they are all of these things and more here. Album opener “Fractals” could be considered all of the above. Mostly, though, I’d say it’s hypnotic, largely due to the bass guitar, which dominates the mix, the guitars slightly pushed into the background with the warm synth behind them. Even Myrtha’s gorgeous vocals sound like they’re somewhat off in the distance; when I hear them, I sometimes think I’m listening to a ghost call me from beyond the grave. Well, OK, I’m not that easily spooked, but you get the idea — they’re quite ethereal. As Myrtha sings the word “freefall,” it’s so beautiful it might as well be the sound angels make while flying down to earth from the heavens. (What can I say, this song lends itself to metaphors.) The follow track might be called “Silent Rain,” but it has a much heavier beat, such that it might even get played in some discotheques. “Rain, rain over, rain, rain over me,” Myrtha sings, evoking Saint Etienne’s Sarah Cracknell.
I detect a Supreme Beings of Leisure influence in the title track, “Now I’m Ready,” which features Ocean Hope. Here, the beats are like a heart racing at 180 beats per minute. Pound, pound, pound, pound… And as it nears the end, loud drums come crashing into the song, turning it into a full-blown rock attack, less anyone be getting too chill or dreamy here. It’s more than enough to wake you.
Another highlight is “Line 4 (Orange),” which reminds me of the funky sound of Air’s first album with its slick, electronica bass. Think “Sexy Boy,” only way more subtle. There’s also percussion here that reminds me of vintage drum ‘n’ bass, solidifying the song’s retro feel.
Later, “Hollow Man” starts off anxiously with extremely fast little beats the lead into full-on drum ‘n’ bass; you’d think you were listening to an old Goldie record. Myrtha’s vocals are considerably slower though, like maple syrup being poured onto hot pancakes. Except these pancakes are bouncing around like jumping beans.
The album closes with “Hunter,” a six minute odyssey that’s perhaps best described as breakbeat with its whip-snap percussion. Or maybe it’s their take on trip-hop, as it does have an air of the first Morcheeba record, Who Can You Trust. Myrtha’s vocals here sound especially sweet, reminding me of former Sneaker Pimps vocalist Kelli Ali or even Kylie Minogue.
Clearly, this duo have their hands in a lot of buckets but the ingredients they’re pulling out of them work wonders together, resulting in one tasty treat of an album. An instant classic.