4 Songs, 17 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

The D.C. duo GEMS work in the same spare, sensuous palette as The xx, though with a richer R&B aesthetic and a clear affinity for the groundbreaking, ethereal music of The Cocteau Twins. That said, GEMS exude an ineffable coolness and an inarguable uniqueness—which isn't surprising when you really examine their recipe. Singer/multi-instrumentalist Lindsay Pitts and multi-instrumentalist Clifford Usher push and pull, come together, and fall apart as cascading, lone guitar notes, glistening tendrils of keyboards, and beads of percussion surround them. Your earbuds might melt when you hear Usher croon, in a woodsy bass, “If you cry out, I’ll be there now” in answer to Pitts’ sad lament, “Time got away from me” on the splendid “Medusa.” Just as seductive is “Pegasus,” where her winsome longing is met with regrettable resistance: “I’ve given all I can/It’s not enough,” he offers, though the truth seems more complicated. A wondrous debut that tantalizes.

EDITORS’ NOTES

The D.C. duo GEMS work in the same spare, sensuous palette as The xx, though with a richer R&B aesthetic and a clear affinity for the groundbreaking, ethereal music of The Cocteau Twins. That said, GEMS exude an ineffable coolness and an inarguable uniqueness—which isn't surprising when you really examine their recipe. Singer/multi-instrumentalist Lindsay Pitts and multi-instrumentalist Clifford Usher push and pull, come together, and fall apart as cascading, lone guitar notes, glistening tendrils of keyboards, and beads of percussion surround them. Your earbuds might melt when you hear Usher croon, in a woodsy bass, “If you cry out, I’ll be there now” in answer to Pitts’ sad lament, “Time got away from me” on the splendid “Medusa.” Just as seductive is “Pegasus,” where her winsome longing is met with regrettable resistance: “I’ve given all I can/It’s not enough,” he offers, though the truth seems more complicated. A wondrous debut that tantalizes.

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About GEMS

GEMS is the ethereal pop project of singer/multi-instrumentalist Lindsay Pitts and multi-instrumentalist Clifford John Usher, who began playing music while attending the University of Virginia and earned some acclaim as the psych-folk project Birdlips in the late 2000s. By 2012, however, Usher and Pitts wanted to change their sound; after recording -- and scrapping -- an album's worth of garage rock-inspired songs, they began experimenting with a more streamlined, electronic-based approach. That August, they were officially known as GEMS. The duo gained an online following by uploading songs to their Soundcloud page, with tracks like "Pegasus" and "Sinking Stone" earning favorable comparisons to Goldfrapp, Beach House, the xx, and Mazzy Star. GEMS' appearance at 2013's CMJ Festival heralded the release of their debut EP, Medusa, that November. After a move to Los Angeles and a deal with Carpark Records, the duo issued their first full-length, Kill the One You Love, in October 2015.~ Heather Phares

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