Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Babel sacrifice depth and darkness for a softer side on Marriage


Release date: 22 September 2023
Babel Marriage cover
22 September 2023, 09:00 Written by Kyle Sager

Only a year and a half after their mysterious debut, Yoga Horror, the Finnish duo has left that dream realm behind and entered another world entirely.

Babel is truly a well-kept secret. When the magical Yoga Horror dropped in the spring of 2022, finding detailed information about the band or any sort of critical analysis of their music was pretty hard. And that’s surprising, given they released a stunningly cohesive and equally as interesting dream-pop record that went mostly unnoticed in the music world, aside from the single “Eden,” which has garnered nearly a million streams on Spotify.

But the elusive Karin Mäkiranta and Mikko Pykäri are back, and their sophomore album brings an unanticipated change – the swinging, pulsing chamber-adjacent pop of Yoga Horror seems to have nearly disappeared, sometimes leaving a bare-boned, unfinished feeling to some of the tracks. Where their first record succeeded immensely in both its production and memorability, Marriage seems to fall flat.

Perhaps the slight disappointment lies in the fact that most of the songs don’t particularly grab your attention and pull you in the way their previous material does. But by no means does this mean that there aren’t some delicate gems embedded in the tracklist. At their best and most confident, Babel have their own distinct musical identity, conjuring up some of the freshest dream-pop in the game. The arpeggiating “Ceremony” proves their additional ability to produce simple but meaningful ballads that you only wish would last a little bit longer.

Although they didn’t make a full genre switch, the new record leans heavily toward bedroom pop, sometimes even evoking the nostalgia of the 2000s in “Crush,” which ends in an innocent yet satisfying wash of instrumental layers. But “Bride’s Tip” is the type of thing that you could simultaneously picture playing on a candlelit at-home date night or in the lobby of a swanky hotel bar. It seems Babel’s bubblier side is now fully fledged, but it doesn’t altogether sound like they’ve hit the mark on their potential. Here, they’ve diverged from the deep, shadowy melodies of Yoga Horror and replaced that with light, percussive pop.

It’s the closer, “Spin” that offers evidence that Babel are on the right track, yet still figuring out their direction. It almost sounds straight from the B-sides of Jockstrap’s I Love You Jennifer B. Mäkiranta’s voice often shares that same quality of lacey, ethereal beauty as Georgia Ellery’s and sometimes even Elizabeth Fraser’s. It’s quite a mesmerising listen.

Marriage is altogether faster-paced and homogenous compared to its predecessor, with a brighter, at-the-surface sound. It leaves you wishing that the articulation of the lyrics was stronger or the melodies were a little more pronounced. The sureness and maturity present on Yoga Horror have seemed to continue only haphazardly on Marriage, resulting in a record that despite its pleasures, doesn’t fully rise up to the expectation left in the wake of their debut.

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