Mai: Snowing Downtown

Mai's 7-inch single Snowing Downtown harks back to a long-vanished era when the word ‘single' stood for ‘two three-minute songs.' But six minutes is all the time Swedish-French duo Dorian Dumont and Johanna Wedin need to whet one's appetite for their Nacopajaz debut album Still Need A Kiss. Though its mix of folk, pop, and electronic sounds is memorable enough, the group's secret weapon is clearly Wedin's stirring voice which haunts “Snowing Downtown” in a manner that recalls Julee Cruise. The song begins with a simple Rhodes theme embedded within vinyl crackle before Wedin's delicate vocal enters, echoing softly as it glides over a soft haze of guitar and keyboards. Dumont assumes the vocal chair in “Lips Apart,” a more aggressive excursion into electronic beatscaping that's hardly as affecting as “Snowing Downtown,” even if it does serve notice that Mai isn't interested in being reduced to a single style. Hopefully the album will fully exploit the considerable potential offered by Wedin's vocalizing.

October 2006