Kris Esfandiari of King Woman and producer Darcy Baylis combine forces in Sugar High | Music Review | Chicago Reader

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Kris Esfandiari of King Woman and producer Darcy Baylis combine forces in Sugar High

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Kris Esfandiari is no stranger to side projects. Since cofounding doom-metal band King Woman in 2009, she’s released solo material under the names Miserable, Kris, Dalmatian, and Nghtcrwler. Her latest project, Sugar High, is a collaboration with Berlin-based songwriter and producer Darcy Baylis, whose credits include recordings by Wicca Phase Springs Eternal and Camp Cope singer-guitarist Georgia Maq. The two met and forged a creative connection over Instagram, and in summer 2018 they spent a week together recording in Esfandiari’s Los Angeles practice space. The result is Sugar High’s debut, Love Addict, which actualizes the inner world of someone pining for genuine connection—it transforms the most solitary feelings of love into something that can be shared. Opening track “Vein” pulls listeners into a trance by pairing a twinkling, descending guitar with swelling synths that softly glow like twilight. From there, in the soporific stupor of night, thoughts of longing start to run amok. On “Alone,” Baylis breathily sings about intrusive, lingering emotions over reverberating guitar lines and Esfandiari’s wordless, sirenlike backing vocals. “Asleep,” which includes vocals from LA ambient artist Mirsy, chronicles the agony of waiting for a late-night call that never comes. Sometimes Sugar High seem lost in their own heads, but “Ugly,” the duo’s second single, anchors the album to reality: Esfandiari drops her voice into a deep murmur as she sing-speaks about the dreaded vulnerability of love atop steel-heavy synth drones and staccato beats. It’s a sobering comedown after the love-drunk haze of the five previous tracks. Though Love Addict clocks in at just 20 minutes, its ethereal songs feel as expansive as the night sky.   v

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