Digital only. CD via Love+Mercy.
Stem is the AMP-shortlisted second album from Evelyn Morris, aka Melbourne psych-pop wunderkind Pikelet.
It builds on the heady, swirling loops of her 2007 self-titled debut, sailing into the psychedelic pop stratosphere with the addition of a full backing band. The album is a joint release between Melbourne labels Chapter Music and Love Mercy.
Recorded with Chicago expat producer Casey Rice (Tortoise, Sea And Cake, Liz Phair, Ben Lee), second album Stem is an incredible expansion of vision. Pikelet inductees Shags Chamberlain (synths), Tarquin Manek (bass, clarinet, backing vocals) and Matthew Cox (drums) bring a cosmic space-prog edge, infiltrating Evelyn’s wide-eyed style with mind-expanding results.
The album opens with woozy casio symphony Toby Light, coursing through the elegant march of Smithereens and the dream-inspired imagery of Introducing. Gameland’s distant vocals echo over loops of sped-up percussion, while shuffling, shimmering first single Weakest Link stands out as a bona-fide pop classic. By the time you get to delicate closer Elbow Equals Bend, it’s clear that Stem is the work of a woman enchanted.
Evelyn has come a long way since Pikelet sprang to life in 2006, named in tribute to the small pancakes (called pikelets in Australia) her mother used to whip up when money was scarce. Before Pikelet, Evelyn was a hardcore kid, a drummer with serious chops in various local bands such as Baseball and True Radical Miracle.
But her self-titled debut was decidedly un-hardcore, made mostly with an accordion, a floor tom and a loop pedal. It came out in 2007 to rave reviews, Pitchfork write-ups and community radio high rotation. Evelyn promptly took off around the world, touring the UK and Europe with Darren Hanlon, and returned home in hot demand, invited to play festivals such as Golden Plains and Laneway, and open for the likes of Sufjan Stevens, Beirut and Goldfrapp.
After assembling her handsome band, Pikelet toured Australia with Mount Eerie, Lucky Dragons, and Ruby Suns, and played a headline show at the Melbourne International Arts Festival. As a solo artist, Evelyn also embarked on a four month world odyssey, playing everywhere from L.A. to Latvia with acts including Jens Lekman, Jeffrey Lewis, Tiny Vipers and R. Stevie Moore.