GET HOOKED ON SEA LEMON’S DEBUT EP “CLOSE UP” OUT NOW

Sea lemons are funny little creatures. Bright yellow, these shell-less slugs only measure four to ten inches in length. By day, they inch along the reefs in the intertidal regions of the Pacific, from Alaska to Baja California. But despite their size and comically shapeless bodies, predators know to keep their distance from these seafaring lemons; their bright yellow color––flecked here and there with black adornments––is a sign to larger eaters that these lemons are poisonous. Don’t get too close, their bodies warn.

Perhaps equally as unassuming upon first glance is the musical Sea Lemon, whose dreampop debut EP Close Up gives listeners a taste of the poisons inside all of us––should anyone get too close. Released on May 20th via Spirit Goth, Close Up comes as the music world’s official introduction to this rising star after her first ever release “Sunday” made a huge splash last year. 

Sea Lemon is the new solo project of 26-year-old songwriter Natalie Lew who discovered her love for writing, recording, and producing music after picking up a guitar for the first time in 2019.  Now based out of Seattle, Lew moved west after an earlier stint in Brooklyn with all-female grunge band the Climates. Sonically inspired by the lush, dreamy atmosphere of Alvvays and Chromatics and the bittersweet glittery vibes of The Beach Boys and Rilo Kiley, Natalie’s songwriting and sound oscillates with misty anxiety between nostalgia and presence, infused with her experiences growing up as a 4th-generation-Asian woman.

Last year, “Sunday” was Sea Lemon’s buy-in to the scene and made for a meteoric introduction to her unique sound in indie-pop circles. She quickly gained a devoted following on Hype Machine blogs, radio stations, and other outlets, whose notable looks include topping the charts on Gorilla vs Bear’s and iHeart Radio’s stations, being called “shimmery” by KEXP, “dazzling” by Atwood, and “feel-good” by FLOOD

“Sunday”

With Close Up Sea Lemon cements her angsty reign. Her saccharine vocals are infectious, yet an obvious darkness lurks behind their sweetness. Calling out in siren-like fashion, Sea Lemon is aware of her poisonous side and invites her listener to bite the apple––to pull the veil back from the dreamy facade and get intimate with what’s underneath.  With three songs released as singles, the remaining songs on the EP are some of the lightest and darkest moments on the record; “Eraser”, a darker track about being so unsure of your reality that you feel like you’re drowning, and “Last Year”, a bright janglepop song on rejecting trend.

Sea Lemon’s sound features lush synths and jangly guitars, creating a neo-psychedelic dreamscape that is at once intoxicating and at the same time eerie and anxious. The EP’s five tracks blend together, one into the next, with amphibious affect. Playing almost like a novella, the short listen-through brings you into Lew’s mind and spits you back out again.  Even the song titles tell their own sort of chronology. 

01. Fortune Teller
02. Last Year
03. Sunday
04. Erase
05. … Turn Away

The EP was written, recorded, and co-produced by Natalie and co-produced, mixed, and mastered by the terrific Stefan Mac (producer and engineer for Wallows, No Vacation, and more) all remotely. Lew’s talent is more than apparent on this debut EP and I can imagine this is only the beginning for the artist. Give Close Up a listen, and don’t be surprised if you feel like sticking around on this indie Calypso’s island.

Carlie Houser Author
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