A collaboration between singer/songwriter Amelia Meath of the Appalachian indie folk trio Mountain Man and electronic producer Nick Sanborn, who performs under the moniker Made of Oak and plays bass with rootsy psych-rockers Megafaun, Durham, North Carolina's Sylvan Esso craft evocative, yet elusive electro folk-pop confections that encompass the best parts of both artists. Formed in 2013, a year after Sanborn presented Meath with a particularly affecting remix of the Meath-penned Mountain Man song "Play It Right," the duo released their Partisan Records-issued debut long-player in early 2014. The LP cracked the Top 40 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of the singles "Hey Mami" and "Coffee," the latter of which was performed on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, marking their national television debut. Early 2017 saw the release of two new singles, "Radio" and "Kick Jump Twist," in anticipation of the arrival of their sophomore full-length What Now, which dropped later that year.
What Now finds the band questioning the confines of electronic pop music, deconstructing traditional notions of beat and melody with intricacy and ingenuity. The rhythm sections and synths have been crafted with a newfound appreciation for sound, but with unexpected, childlike curiosity. The lyrics retain a relatable amount of simplicity, yet they also portray an intimate exploration of self-worth and image. Sylvan Esso knew they had a good thing going, and succeeded at reworking and redefining what they’d already done.