EMA doesn’t joke around. “Milkman” is wounded and damaged, and overflows with a kind of fervid angst that isn’t seen all that often in music these days. The obvious comparison here is to Sleigh Bells, but that is a bit of a misnomer; While both acts employ massive guitars and jackhammer percussion, EMA uses all her wattage to exorcise something darker than Sleigh Bells’ bacchanalian shenanigans. A better comparison is to Karen O at her most wild-eyed, or Sleater-Kinney at their most raw—artists whose intensity dares the audience not to look away. When EMA repeats “I’m gasping, I’m gasping” she really sounds like she is fighting to breathe. As “Milkman” shrieks through its final few seconds, you too may need a lungful of fresh air.
Past Life Martyred Saints will be out 5/10 on Souterrain Transmissions.