On their second album, Strange Pleasures, Still Corners were savvy enough to jump on the seemingly unstoppable synth-pop-meets-shoegaze trend of the 2010s. They refine and expand on this sound with Dead Blue, an album title that comes from Tessa Murray and Greg Hughes' move from London to the seaside town of Deal in Kent. Despite its beachy origins, Dead Blue is far from summery or peaceful. "Lost Boys"' stylish debauchery was inspired in part by Brian Wilson, but Murray's vocals and the synths surrounding her are more likely to cause frostbite than sunburns. The sea that sparked these songs seems ominously deep and unknowable, and the lament of "Bad Country"'s chorus ("We had a breakdown/So here we are/Stuck in a bad country") feels like it could be autobiographical. Here and on "Currents," Still Corners sound even sleeker than they did on Strange Pleasures, and on the album's first half, they save the experimental aspect of their sound for atmosphere. Later on, however, the eclectic oddness of their early years comes surging back with striking results: when it comes to majestic sonics, "Down with Heaven and Hell" is on par with the finest from Beach House and the Cocteau Twins. Meanwhile, things get weirdly nasty on "The Fixer," a collision of slashing acoustic guitars, writhing synths, and Murray's honeyed threats. However, the album's wildest track has to be "Night Walk," which puts Still Corners' music into a time machine that speeds from the baroque arpeggios and counterpoint of '60s and '70s electronic music to glamorous '80s synth pop. Even on the more straightforward "Downtown" and "Dreamhorse," Murray and Hughes sound more excited -- and more exciting -- on Dead Blue's second half than what came before. As good as Still Corners are at fitting their music into a mold, the tension they create between city and seaside, as well as their pop and experimental impulses, is unique, and Dead Blue is most rewarding when they explore it fully.