After the overview of their brief career that was their previous release, the EP “Fuck Christian Aids”, Stay+ are back with an EP featuring unreleased tracks this time. But the best news is that “Arem” holds five new tracks in one go, when so far the band have always been revealing new tunes drop by drop. As usual, the music comes accompanied by carefully chosen visuals, starting with that odd format you can get their songs with: a 50” QR code that gives access to the album download and the video “The Buzzer”, directed by Deerhead. That video, by the way, is an 18-minute short film the soundtrack of which is built from fragments of the songs on “Arem”, and is by far the most ambitious thing they've done with regards to visuals, which, as said, they always take good care of: check the excellent videos of their previous tracks. However, in spite of the attractiveness and great execution of some of the images, the influence of David Lynch may be a tad too big, and the short film doesn't have the impact of most of their previous videos.
There are few surprises on this EP. Maybe the most remarkable thing is that they're moving ever closer towards pop, such as on the acclaimed “Guardian”, featuring Daniel O’Sullivan’s voice mixed in the front, almost unmodified, emphasising the splendid song’s pop aspirations. But prior to that, the EP opens with “Call Him”, with the sound of a distorted guitar and a slow rhythm that builds the tension over a layer of white noise, an abstract piece pleasantly reminiscent of Seefeel. The first track is connected with “Hush Money”, which sounds darker, with a mix of techno and house elements, and a sampled diva vocal that reinforces the song's emotional power. After “Guardian” and the minute of distortion that is “Arem”, the EP finishes with “Dandelion Seed”, potentially a euphoric anthem with an ecstatic soul diva vocal and a very present wood-block rhythm, reminiscent of the way Burial used the instrument as an important part of his sound.
Stay+ have a lot in common with other British bands who explored the limits between electronic experimentation and hooks, from New Order to Disco Inferno, influenced, of course, by rave music from different eras. Like their ancestors, Stay+ combine noise and danceable rhythms, rough textures, accumulating and releasing tension and emotions, expressing the emotional rollercoaster that a night on the town can be, in 5-minute pieces, mixing the Burial-style feeling of post-rave memory with a tone that is melancholic and euphoric at the same time. But the main sensation on this release is their approach to the pop song format, with the band feeling increasingly at ease, and it wouldn't be a surprise if they decided to go even more pop in the future.