Katherine Blamire and Jessica Davies’ band name, Smoke Fairies, might conjure images of wispy, prog-pop. But on their second album, Blood Speaks, the English duo creates shadowy, minimal pop with chilled folk elements, dusky guitar and restrained percussion. A close analogy is PJ Harvey, with whom they share a producer, vocal tonality, and lyrical sensibilities.
Blood Speaks blurs together blues, indie pop, ‘70s So Cal pop and brooding atmospherics. The 10 tracks reflect on the lonely subsurface of romance, with a parallel view on movement and travel. The cumulous “Daylight” (about loss of belief while driving all night) has a fragile beauty. The coolly shimmering “Hideaway” has a Lisa Germano-esque gauze. The humid “The Three of Us” (about betrayal’s bruises amid desert starlight) contrasts serrated six-string against the duo’s ghostly harmonies. “Take Me Down When You Go” is brazenly melodic, but even here, darkness is significant, particularly during the song’s finest nihilistic line, “Something dies when you fall in love.”