Audio Mixer: Jake Aron.
Photographer: Shervin Lainez.
The debut album from New York's Stranger Cat, which consists of Brooklyn singer/songwriter and frequent Sufjan Stevens collaborator Cat Martino and producer/multi-instrumentalist Sven Britt, offers up a sonically lush, emotionally charged blast of soaring, electronically induced, R&B-kissed indie pop that invokes names like Bat for Lashes, Susanne Sundfor, Florence + the Machine, and Jessie Ware. Conceived during a period of personal upheaval that saw Martino retreating into the Sierra Nevadas for some serious self-evaluation, it should come as no surprise that the aptly named In the Wilderness is consumed by a sense of deep-seated yearning, but between Britt's tasteful and inventive production (his fractured, but never jerky, drum programming and innate sense of when to let things breathe and when to let it rip gives the album a nice flow) and Martino's powerhouse vocals, it never comes off as melodramatic. This is music to search by, scan with, and occasionally sing along to, and though it's relatively untethered stylistically, the duo is more than capable of keeping their multiple plates spinning. Whether it's shimmering bedroom indie-electro (the near perfect first single "Sirens"), angular, St. Vincent-esque experimental chamber pop ("Fig Tree"), glacial, melancholic synth-pop (the Sufjan Stevens-assisted, very Age of Adz-sounding "I Promise"), or sumptuous, straight-up contemporary R&B (the sensual and soulful title track), Stranger Cat delivers the goods with equal amounts of indie cool and genuine heart, but it's ultimately Martino's velvety croon that serves as the glue that keeps everything from flying off into the ether. ~ James Christopher Monger