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100 Albums: "Touch" by July Talk

Kurt is going through his favorite records. Read the explainer or view the master list.

Artist: July Talk
Title: Touch
Released: 2016
Genre: indie alternative swamp-rock



For a few years there, it was just a given that an "indie" band would have both a male and female singer, the most famous probably being either Of Monsters And Men or She & Him. But aside from a few exceptions, the blended male/female typically result in neither vocalist being very memorable or distinct.

July Talk is the exception, co-fronted by Leah Fay and Peter Dreimanis, who sound kind of like a happier Karen O and an angrier Leonard Cohen, respectively. They sing at complete opposite ends of the spectrum, Fay with an almost keening soprano and Dreimanis with a growly baritone, which means they don't blend so much as form a two-pronged assault. Fittingly, a lot of their vocal lines aren't so much handed off to each other as they are a call-and-response. You can hear that used to great effect on Lola + Joseph, a song about a chance romantic encounter at a liquor store, and also just a damned sexy song.

Despite describing their actual relationship as "brother/sister" Fay and Dreimanis frequently sing in character as paramours, and the messiness of adult relationships are an undercurrent throughout the whole album. Topics include being unsatisfied with voyeurism (Picturing Love), staying in a broken relationship just because the familiarity is comfortable (Strange Habit), and the complications around a casual "booty call" relationship (Beck + Call). The album ends with Touch, an atmospheric slow-build song about needing to connect with someone but at the same time needing to keep yourself walled off from everyone. And for good measure, there's also a song about colonialism (Jesus Said So).

It's a compelling album with a unique sound. I heard the song Touch on the Next Music podcast and knew I was going to need to hear the rest of the album. They're a new band, but one to watch.

Further Listening: The band only has one other album, a self-titled album from 2012. It's not nearly as refined as Touch, but you can hear rougher versions of the sonic elements that are on display here. It also has Summer Dress, which is perhaps the band's best song.

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