July Talk is a band with the strength of two incredible voices. The soaring tones of Leah Fay against the snarl baritone of Peter Dremainis are a combination that have boosted the band’s indie blues growl through their initial two albums.
Their 2012 self-titled debut was blistered with heavy riffs and followed by 2016’s Touch, which exemplified their ability to maintain intensity with restraint. The push and pull of their voices remain the standout element on their third album Pray For It, out now via Sleepless Records.
The deep voice of Dremainis opens this new album, with smooth saxophone and slightly synthed keyboard tones. Into the third minute of the track, Fay counters with tender, soft notes. All pieces combine as the tempo picks up with subtle bass drums and a progression of muted tom drums. It creates a hauntingly sweet mood.
“Good Enough” is a track tinged in 80s dreaminess. Their voices sway back and forth with a beat that is uplifting and relaxed. The keyboards return with long tones buzzing in a whimsical state of passion on a warm, autumn day. As fast spurts of clapping hands occupy the fills, the track could easily be a tender, climactic romance scene of a John Hughes film. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear of a screenwriter somewhere being inspired to create a nostalgic montage scene just to use this song within it.
“Pretender” features a hazardous bass line that is met with possibly the deepest keys possible from a rumbling piano. The notes rattle sadistically as Dremainis heavily breathes his deep words with a Tom Waits aesthetic. Shards of high guitar notes are plucked, adding to the feelings of unease. The track elevates out of its threatening tone for brighter choruses and complete chords. The pacing fits, yet leaves me wishing it remained a bit darker throughout.
Pray For It is a departure from the aggression and joyfully sinister rhythms of July Talk’s previous work. This is likely to bum out some of the fans of the past, yet Pray For It maintains the intensity of a passionate duo. Frayed sounds and a mid-tempo smoldering create a bittersweet pain and sense of promise. On this album, Fay and Dremainis are working through tumultuous tones and finding one another in harmony and reflection.