Hear Racing Heart's Lovesick Indie-Folk Ode 'Emma'

'To Walk Behind the Ghost,' out April 20, features members of St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens' bands

Racing Heart / Photo by Michelle Arcila
Racing Heart / Photo by Michelle Arcila
Marc Hogan WRITTEN BY
Marc Hogan

For Emma, forever ago: "So many days have come and gone," Racing Heart mourns on "Emma," from the Brooklyn-based indie-folk group's debut album To Walk Beside the Ghost, due out April 20 on Movemountains. Oslo transplant and prime creative force Mathias Tjønn's distant muse feels just as irrevocably lost as Justin Vernon's, though this chamber-pop construction's elaborate wash of harmonies more closely recalls Grizzly Bear, Local Natives, or even Maps & Atlases. Members of St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens' bands, in fact, contributed to the album's recording.

There's an intricate allure in the interplay between Racing Hearts' rippling auto-harp, precisely shaded drumming, and queasy analogue synths. But the head-spinning moment on "Emma" is the chorus, where multiple voices join in singing the title character's name. One other "Emma" comes to mind, the one whose house Britain's mild-mannered twee-pop luminaries the Field Mice used to visit. Her house was vacant, but still somehow "Emma's"; or, as Racing Heart puts it, "Where our language lacks words / That empty space is yours."

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