, the second album from Orcas -- the collaboration of Thomas Meluch, better known as Benoît Pioulard
, and Rafael Anton Irissari, who also makes graceful ambient shoegaze under the name The Sight Below
-- seems very intent on a time and a place. In this case, a summer in Germany, where most of these songs were written.
To shift between subject and setting, Yearling
switches between ambient drift and yearning ambient pop, with plaintive vocals courtesy of Pioulard. This can be seen most evidently in the one-two punch of album openers "Petrichor" and "Infinite Stillness", the former being a glowing nimbus of field recordings and swelling organs that sound like the backlit tree on the album cover, and "Infinite Stillness" being a piece of epic now wave splendour, with solid, stately drum machines and a plodding bassline and the first appearance of Pioulard's angelic vocals, that brings to mind the best era of The Cure.
With a couple exceptions, this more song-oriented approach is a new feature of Orcas', whose self-titled debut was more focused on improvisation and ambiance
. Most of Yearling
was already written in the summer of 2012, and having a backbone to work off allows the music to be both loose and organic while still being tight, controlled, and ultimately, more human and more personal than any of the participants' solo careers.