They Slipped Away From My Mind Just Like This — Beijing duo Dear Eloise’s fifth LP since first presenting themselves to the world with stunning, slow-motion 2010 debut full-length The Words That Were Burnt — plays out like a dream journal. Like all Dear Eloise releases, it’s pri-vate, personal, intimate, singular. The format of this album-length release — a five-7” box set — is fitting: Dear Eloise’s music is so rich, so layered, it’s almost physical.
Even by Dear Eloise’s doleful standards, the lyrics on They Slipped Away are melancholic, made even more achingly soul-piercing by vocalist Sun Xia’s unfailingly sweet, silken soprano delivery. “The tears will eventually fall, and wet a dream without a future,” she waxes on opener “Dreams of Mid-Summer,” singing elsewhere on the album of “a world where there is no trace of light” (“Heart of Wave”) and “forgetting yourself in this unchanging repetition” (“Empty Year”).
A tense edge permeates even Sun Xia’s most saccharine vocal moments, but the band’s som-ber poetics are only one flower in the bouquet, not the dominant element. Their sound on this album is as dense and engrossing as ever, a deep hedge of lush, sculpted noise to lose your-self in listen after listen.
Early album standout “Across the Time” refreshes the band’s tendency to build songs around small shifts in pitch, punctuating melodic simplicity and lyrical depth with a staccato double-time beat. “Rifacimiento” is a vintage piece of space-case-rock for a garage with no cars, just inches-thick carpet covering every surface, evoking the odor of fresh-cut summer grass mingling in the the air with rich, teeming rafts of reverb. “River of Lethe” will also please fans of peak ‘90s guitar slacker nostalgia, make you wanna get slanted & enchanted. Penultimate track “Escape” re-introduces Dear Eloise’s quintessential instrument of sonic surgery: a mellow buzzsaw of spiral-ing high-frequency feedback, hanging between voice, guitar, bass and drums like a late-night smoke, perpetually unfurling in the background of an eternal end-credit roll.
On this latest collection of expertly crafted anthems to emotional complexity — which includes an inspired cover of Xi’an band FAZI’s rousing anthem “Control” — the ultimate feeling is one of unaccountable hope: on They Slipped Away From My Mind Just Like This, Dear Eloise is world weary, but always hanging on.