Sarah Lipstate’s guitar has been wielded like a ceremonial axe through nearly a decade of work as Noveller, and her discography of fierce, untamed sonic explorations is vast and varied. A Pink Sunset for No One, her latest full-length, dials back on the six-string chaos a bit for an exploration of some lush and deeply layered soundscapes, a work that harkens to the heady post-shoegaze of Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Mark McGuire, and the more musical and less wink-nudge highlights of vaporwave.
The album swoons ephemerally into motion on “Deep Shelter,” all delicate synth-lines padding like waves on some lost Michael Mann shoreline, before a soaring guitar sweeps across the foreground in a heart-wrenching lead melody that gradually collapses in on itself as the track stutters to a halt. Elsewhere, “Rituals” is measured in bits and bytes of carefully chorused plucks and sweeps, rising and falling like a heartbeat as the piece unfurls flower-like, entrancingly. “Lone Victory Tonight” is eerie and pulsing, bringing to mind Dead Cities-era M83, all analog trembling and emotive minor-key wails. “Corridors” is wavery and shimmering in a way that recalls Lipstate’s past works without repeating them explicitly, and “Emergence” closes the album with vast, twilit reverb and decay, billowing hazily into the ether, trailing away into a mist that can’t be grasped, soon gone forever.
It’s no slight to say that this is Lipstate’s most accessible work thus far as Noveller; the pure pop and tropical-tinged moments here are stunning and effective beyond measure, the simplicity of structure in most of these tracks offset tastefully by the complexity of the heartfelt responses they invoke. This is late-night bedroom music to drift away on, with clouds of throbbing synth and hushed roars of guitar ready to bleed into your dreams. It’s a treat to see Lipstate grow and expand as an artist, and when the fruits of such labor are as delicious as those found on A Pink Sunset for No One, that forward motion is especially compelling.