Album Review: Stella Emmett – Admirer

New York indie-pop artist Stella Emmett debuted a spacey, chillwave pop sound with the release of Admirer, her debut album, on Friday, August 23. Admirer is a shimmering summer record, and though it is easygoing and melodic, its 10 tracks are also intentional and captivating, built into dynamic layers of sound that shine and glisten.

Album artwork by Lucie Murphy.

Stella Emmett – the stage name for musician Stella Kortchmar – has been developing for two years. Kortchmar and co-producer Mike Dvorscak worked together on Admirer for two summers, methodically working to write songs, strip them down, and slowly build them back up by adding one new voice at a time. The result is a set of woozy, intricate electronic pop songs created from structured beats, hazy synth and smooth vocals, and each track takes on a unique life.

“Out Of Town” opens the record with a definitively low-key electric beat; the song is cool and low but not entirely fluid, and near the end, layers of shifting instrumentals and whispering melodies build into a delicately-constructed beat. It’s a stellar finish to a mellow electronic song, but it is not an exception on the record – every track is intentionally built to be complex and nuanced while still maintaining the same chillwave tempo and feel. “DayDream,” too, has a consistent beat and structure, but its unhurried pace and swells of gorgeous synthesizer and smooth vocals are golden, shimmering and emotive as Kortchmar croons, “But you’re better than anything I’ve made up/And now I have to give the daydream up.”

Because of the laidback attitude that so permeates the record, Kortchmar self-describes her music as “IkeaCore,” a descriptor that essentially means it’s easy listening.

“This wasn’t necessarily my intention, but listening back to Admirer now, I feel like I made it to serve as a daily life soundtrack for people,” said Kortchmar in an email. “I wanted to create an album that was at once deeply personal and about my actual life but also a sort of sound palette people could put on at parties, or listen to on the train, or listen to while cooking dinner or even while shopping at IKEA, thus the descriptor ‘IkeaCore.'”


Photo by Joseph Charles Viola.

Perhaps Admirer‘s biggest draw is exactly that property; while the music can be angular and nuanced, it’s still accessible. The record is relaxed and unbothered, oozing a kind of mellow energy that seems to be infectious on late summer days, and the combination of its intricate soundscape and chillwave vibe makes it perfect for both intentional and casual listeners.

Stream and purchase Admirer, out August 23, via Stella Emmett’s Bandcamp below.


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