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SALES - forever & ever Music Album Reviews

On their second record, the Orlando duo create a world of cozy, minimalist pop.

In SALES’ world, everything has its place. Unlike the messy shelves of a discounted goods rack or the garish neon stickers on clearance markdowns that the moniker suggests, the Orlando duo make shipshape indie pop with a sleek packaging. Since forming in 2013, singer/guitarist Lauren Morgan and producer/guitarist Jordan Shih have taken their time sharing music as an independent and self-managed entity, releasing a steady stream of singles and EPs before dropping their self-titled debut in 2016. Before SALES, the band’s every element was coordinated: the color-block collage artwork, the tight-knit trip-hop production, Morgan’s insouciant singing style. The aesthetic-heavy product gained them a following online, all without the help of a label or promoter. Now, as the duo return with their sophomore album, forever & ever, SALES’ mellow perfectionism is beginning to loosen, allowing their songwriting to capture a wider emotional range.

Written, recorded, and mixed between their two bedroom studios, forever & ever spends as much time exploring dream pop airiness and electronic minimalism as it does romanticizing its guitar parts. A song like “You Look Well” centers around a simple guitar melody and Shih’s thudding electric drums, creating a heavy fog over the course of the song as the melody lodges itself in your brain. Much of that haze comes from Morgan, who sings in a nonchalant manner that favors the plump yet hushed enunciation of Beach House’s Victoria Legrand. On standout single “Off and On,” her voice skates across the bare and looping guitar lines, transforming what could be misread as an homage to the xx into a more personal song. The duo’s dexterous guitar-work prioritizes sparse melodies and every song sounds comfortably bare, steeping in its own cozy, minimalist pop space.

The skill with which SALES employ their drum machine (cheekily referred to as their “third, uncredited member”) gives the conventionally robotic instrument the illusion of being ambulatory. During “Talk a Lot,” short hi-hat taps and staccato bass-drum kicks take on the life of a jazz drummer while Shih and Morgan harmonize guitars. It sounds like there’s room to improvise, but every note and its delivery feels purposefully chosen to give the album its crisp, clean sound.

The album pulls focus toward the blasé emotion in Morgan’s voice. She overcomes day-to-day problems, sanding them down until they lose their edge, but her words are too breathy to completely decipher. So as the album opens with one of those reflections (“You work in the mornings/A boring 9-to-5/And you’re spent”), SALES make it clear that this time around they’re zoned in on a larger feeling, not a smaller moment. By setting abstract emotions against a perpetually chill backdrop , SALES create a world of lo-fi pop on forever & ever that’s perfectly pristine yet easy to get lost in all the same.

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