Meath and Sanborn have described the dynamic of Sylvan Esso as an argument between them, her irresistible hooks pushing and pulling against his adventurous, sometimes unsettling synths. No Rules Sandy is a complete merge— pop and electronic music fusing into something new that constantly builds on itself. With this album, Meath says, “we went back to the classic formula, which is us trying to impress the other one.” Take “Echo Party,” which opens with electronic warble around Meath’s voice as a simple beat behind her eventually yields to a deep synth wobble. There’s lightness and darkness tugging at each other, the ecstatic promise of a party (“there’s a lot of people dancing downtown”) that you might not ever be able to leave (“yeah we all fall down/but some stay where they got dropped.”) Sanborn’s synths nod to 90s electronic music throughout, but as with the full album, he says, “I want everything to feel like something you've heard before, but presented in a way you've never heard.”
Both describe No Rules Sandy as their most personal project— right in the title, after all, is Sanborn’s own nickname. The most intimate—but still enigmatic— details arrive in interstitial moments between tracks, featuring voicemails from loved ones, birdsong from outside their studio, Betty’s, the voices of children, and other life detritus transformed into eternal art. “It feels like this diary entry from this very specific time,” Sanborn says of the interstitials, which fill the gaps between songs and make No Rules Sandy an unbroken ribbon of sound, a source of wildness and energy that continues from the album’s first moment to the last.