On New Live Release, Electropop duo Sylvan Esso Expand, and Redefine, the Parameters of ‘No Rules Sandy’

Sylvan Esso press photo
Popular Durham electropop duo Sylvan Esso add orchestral arrangements to their already expansive 2022 album on a new live release | Graham Tolbert, courtesy of the artist

I relish any opportunity to hear revised in-studio tracks, and I don’t think there’s a better venue for that than Electric Lady’s live in-studio session series. Last month, Durham electropop duo Sylvan Esso released five Live At Electric Lady renditions of tracks from their 2022 record No Rules Sandy (in addition to a cover of Low’s “Will the Night”).

The standout track from this collection of songs is “Coming Back To You,” which packs fresh complexity compared to the original studio version. A string quartet crests and fades behind Amelia Meath’s characteristically clean vocals, suggesting sweeping currents of movement—for a song about returning, this addition just makes sense. A swelling vocoder is more prevalent in this version, too, and Nick Sanborn gives himself more room to break up the analog with digital bleeps and bloops from his famous synthy spread.

Overall, this Electric Lady track contains a poignancy that the original lacks, so much so that the album version now feels like a late-stage demo rather than the finished product.

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