Shi Yi (Holy Darkness)
There’s something deeply unsettling about Shi Yi’s self-titled album. A darkened collection of slinky Americana guitars and femme-fatale whisperings, the duo’s debut balances precariously between being eerily morose and unflinchingly erotic. Minimalist burlesque opener “Grey” lays out the act’s twisted vibe perfectly, as drummer Erika Petro breathes out each syllable like a glass-eyed Marilyn Monroe impersonator, casting her glance past the spotlights of an empty, dingy nightclub. Meanwhile, guitarist Scott Russell lurks in the background like Blue Velvet’s Frank Booth, delivering tense, teeth-clenched calls between deep huffs of amyl nitrate.
While the group employs the classic big-beat drums that anchor old Phil Spector recordings and the current crop of reverb-drenched acts like Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles, Shi Yi transforms these usually poppy rhythms into a backdrop for its messed-up melodies. “Devil’s Mountain”, for instance, unravels its layers of echo-laden six-strings dangerously across Petro’s pulsing percussive style.
If Shi Yi’s gloomy tunes warn you of the band’s depravity, it’s Petro’s intoxicating, late-night coo that’ll really get you in trouble. True to its name, “Dirty” finds the flirtatious succubus urging us to spend some sexy time with her atop the album’s final, reckless moment of crashing drums and woozy, wormwood-laced power chords. And, God help us all, there’s nothing we can do to resist.