You and I marks the third release in two years for New York dream pop group The Dig (following last year’s full-length, Midnight Flowers, and their first 2013 EP, Tired Hearts), those sets comprising an impressive sum of 21 consistently nocturnal and sedated songs. They’ve been moving very quickly, but they’re a band that’s at their best when they’re slow. Their best song to date, Midnight Flowers’ “I Already Forgot Everything You Said”, takes one of the nicely resolved melodies the New York quartet have no trouble cranking out, but unfolds it patiently, the hook easily lending itself to crescendo and creating breathing room for their palette of guitar textures.
This time, The Dig dials the tempos down ever slower. Which is to say, not much has changed. The collection is their most cohesive and emotionally uniform, but the six tracks of You and I offer few new sounds. David Baldwin and Emile Mosseri trade off muffled vocals for 25 minutes over extra-thick, heavily sustained pools of piano, synth, and electric guitar effects. It all bleeds together especially fluidly on this EP, the words “you and I” repeated throughout the entire record. “Our Hearts Were Wrapped in Ice” briefly steps outside the formula by opening with the baby steps of a single acoustic guitar, but 90 seconds later, the inevitable, gradual shoegaze flood washes over all.
Where You and I (and the band’s entire three-release arc) suffers most is their reliance on atmosphere. The Dig don’t know exactly what to do when they’re not syrupy, which exposes a void that a confident personality could better fill; they tend to use vocals as a third, fourth, or even fifth ambient tool, rather than an extension of the human being behind it. But, when that personality peeks through – as it does on “Made My Bed”, which deserves a place right next to that gem “I Already Forgot Everything You Said” – it shows how calmly striking they can be on any individual song, in addition to their overarching atmospheres.
Essential Tracks: “Cold Afternoon”, “Made My Bed”