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Portland is a project born of instant connection, yet it’s also one that has survived some of the darkest life can throw at them. Dreamy songwriting bathed in beauty, the Belgian two-piece thrive on pure expression, infusing their beatific, ethereal work with incredible honesty. New album, ‘Departures’, pushes them to the brink, forcing them to open up as never before, and in the process discover themselves all over again.
The story starts almost a decade ago. Sarah Pepels was new in town, a music student attempting to make some roots. Hearing music coming from down the corridor in her student home, she knocked, and met Jente Pironet for the first time. One conversation led to the next, and within hours they were writing together, playing each other their ideas and sharing some profound secrets. “We shared the same passions,” she reflects. “We became best friends, soul mates… and the band emerged from that.”
The two won the prestigious De Nieuwe Lichting prize - one of Belgium’s top honours for young songwriters - before releasing their precocious debut album ‘Your Colours Will Stain’ in 2019. Word quickly spread on their hazy dream pop - reminiscent of Beach House or School Of Seven Bells - but the pandemic pulled the shutters down on their burgeoning careers. As Jente puts it: “We went through some difficult times, I guess. The pandemic was very isolating for us both, and as a result the music took on board those emotions.”
‘Departures’ was born of this. Put simply, it’s magnificent - all the promise of their earlier work realized, it drifts between the grace of Slowdive and a sense of classic songwriting that recalls everyone from Fleetwood Mac, say, to Angus and Julia Stone. Sonically beautifully and emotionally gripping, it’s a profound song cycle, the work of musicians digging deeper than ever before.
For fans of Beach House, Angus & Julia Stone, Mazzy Star, Ben Howard.
1. Where Did Everybody Go
2. Good Girls
5. Never Leave
6. How It Is
7. Last Trip
9. Little Bit Closer
11. So Sweet
12. No Man’s Land