Originally hailing from Ireland but now based in Berlin, Pearly are a duo that excel at crafting elusive music that can sound mournful as much as it can act as a salve. Their work is the result of the close partnership between Saramai Leech and Cormac O’Keeffe, whose voices often intertwine, inextricable from one another. Sometimes people call them dream-pop, but the hues of their music feel more shadowed and burnt than that — there’s something dreamlike, yes, but their melodies often move like wind through fallen leaves in the waning days of Autumn, rather than casting upwards towards the cosmos.
Though they haven’t released anything officially, the duo managed to gain some traction around Europe in recent years, opening for acts like Steve Gunn and Half Waif. I first became aware of them as one of the showcased artists at last year’s iteration of Hard Working Class Heroes, a smaller SXSW-style event aimed at highlighting local Irish talent. (The event has since been rechristened Irish Music Week, and Pearly will be returning for this October’s installment.) When I saw them, I heard traces of Mazzy Star and Low — if this was dream-pop, it had been weathered through the world-weariness of slowcore. And as my coworker Chris DeVille wondered, perhaps the fact that they share a name with a beloved Radiohead B-Side isn’t a coincidence.
Today, Pearly are unveiling their first official single, “Chain Of Coral.” (It’s accompanied by another song called “Feelings Of Plenty.”) It’s the first in a series of singles set for release through the rest of this year, before a vinyl EP in February. Here’s what Leech had to say about the new track:
Sometimes all you have is the hope that there will be hope, and that can be enough. “Chain Of Coral” explores that. There’s a straight A major at the end of this song and it was a big deal for us to add that in. That’s the light, the hope for hope. In terms of our process we’re pretty minimal in our attitude so every decision can be a big decision. We’re slow creatures, but once the work is done and the ink has set, we hope the songs can wash over people, like watching a dance or studying a fire. We’ve been in such an intense and creative place with the music that we almost forgot about the sharing part. It’s both exciting and strange to release these songs.
Studying a fire — that’s a pretty apt comparison for “Chain Of Coral.” The duo’s melody weaves in and out of focus initially, like tips of flames moving in unpredictable yet still natural arcs. The song becomes entrancing in the same ways as the images Leech evokes, drawing you in with one flare, one faded hook, before encouraging you to get lost in its currents. It’s a sighing, beautiful composition. Check it out below.
The “Chain Of Coral” / “Feelings Of Plenty” single is out 10/4 via Greenbay Records.