What does it sound like?:
This album has the flavour of blossoms flourishing after a heavy spring shower. It is pungent, yet delicate. Julia Holter’s work is often labelled ‘avant-garde’ because it is esoteric and explores obscure artistic themes. However, this album is light and airy enough for her to reach a wider audience. There are still spikes and sour berries hidden amongst the blossoms that prevent these pieces becoming radio fodder. Besides, her song structures continue to defy convention. Melodies appear in tantalising fragments, rhythms fidget, abrupt musical volte face and unexpected moments of reflection are frequent events. A baroque harpsichord features on a couple songs, another is interrupted by a saxophone in full skronk, skilful piano flourishes bolster others and the strings are sharp as opposed to lush. Above it all, Julia’s slightly echoed voice floats like a disinterested spectre. The title of the album suggests intimacy but her singing and opaque lyrics eschew it.
The net result is unusual, seductive and quite beautiful. Listening to it is like entering an eccentric house. The rooms are all peculiar shapes and are filled with idiosyncratic furniture, ornaments and pictures. It is an intriguing pleasure to spend time there.
What does it all *mean*?
I’ve just had to make room in my top three of the year even before Joanna Newsom’s album is released.
Goes well with…
A sound system that can shave a smidge off the treble and boost the bass. Straightforward MP3 lacks warmth. I bet vinyl sounds great.
Might suit people who like…
Imaginative, exploratory music. If you like Broadcast and Newsom, this could be for you.