Up-and-coming London-based artist Emily Underhill, known as Tusks, finds a front row sit in an ideal Top 10 of indie acts who dropped an album in 2017. ‘Dissolve’, her debut LP dropped last month via One Little Indian, brought to our ears a little gem in the indie universe we love the most. Ten tracks, 36 minutes of mesmerising soundscapes, and a variety of styles and influences put together by a skilful multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter who better than anyone might impersonates the definition of DIY artist nowadays. Her album’s launch party is set at Kamio, hidden corner in the heart of London’s Shoreditch, and frankly speaking, I am very much looking forward to being there.
I am down early, on a mid-November buzzing Wednesday evening. I barely have had the time for the ritual lager with one of the other two thirds of Indie + Tonic, Chico, when Kaleida climb the stage. I don’t know anything about vocalist Christina Wood and keyboardist Cicely Goulder, signed to Lex Records. Their sound, halfway in between industrial, soaked in a Berliner atmosphere, and electro, is spacious and haunting. Their set includes the best bits of the duo’s recent LP, ‘Tear The Roots’, of which ‘All The Pretty Pieces’ is still stuck in my mind. They came a long way and finally – after a few years around – dropped an album which, in its complexity, sounds like a banger.
Tusks with her band take the stage shortly after the opening act. The crowd is silent, yet Kamio looks packed. Emily’s vocals stand out in ‘For You’ (opening track of the record) an fill the air alongside a spacious, cinematic sound. She looks confident on stage, switching between her synths and delicately playing a guitar which sound is something unique. Charged with emotional electricity, the crowd stares at the stage where Tusks plays the best chapters out of her brilliant debut. ‘Ivy’ punches hearts, ‘Paris’ showcases the inner beauty of a complicated track (“We spent 90% of our practice time to get this song live”, says Emily at some point); not mention the emotional ‘My Love’ or the early singles, ‘London Thunder’ and ‘Toronto’.
Emily plays her music adding to her attentive production with a stunning set of visuals as a background. The title-track ‘Dissolve’ unfolds at the end filling the air with ethereal atmospheres and making even more special a night of beautifully crafted music. There’s no room for an encore, and after all, this is how it’s meant to be. Tusks leaves the stage, and the first thing I want to do is get out, have some fresh air, grab my headphones and play ‘Dissolve’ in full. Again, and again.