Ben Borden and David Ertel make electronic pop under the name Solar Year. The Montreal-based duo appeared last summer with the song “Brotherhood”—a woozy piece of electronic music that featured friend and fellow Montreal-based artist Grimes contributing backing vocals. Since then, the band has finished recording its full-length LP, Waverly, the 10 tracks of which mix reverb-soaked vocals and spare beats to create otherworldly, often deceptively catchy pop songs.
The two friends originally met in Montreal, where they played in the same scene as experimental pop acts like d’Eon, Braids, Majical Cloudz and, of course, Grimes. For their album, though, Ertel and Borden uprooted and moved to Iceland, where they wrote and recorded in the beautiful Lutheran church that appears on the cover of their record.
Like Grimes, Borden and Ertel obsess over the way they can make human vocals shift, shimmer, and transmute when filtered through machines. Fittingly, considering its recording location, their album has a quasi-religious weight to its sound—though Ertel assures us, “We’re not, like, a medievalist band or something.” Even so, Ertel’s voice, when repitched and processed, can come off less like a single human and more like a gathering of Gregorian monks or an occult hymn sung by a roomful of acolytes.