Friday, March 25, 2016

All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend | Aurora

It's not often we, as pop music consumers, are given an artist like Aurora.

With an elegant tongue and productions that create complementary environments for her authentic storytelling, she demands attention in an unorthodox fashion; her music is encompassing, but neither overpowering nor anthemic. At moments of culmination ("Running with the Wolves," "Warrior"), she is nothing short of majestic. When hopelessness strikes, she echoes her inner vulnerability with a fragile quiver (the acoustic cut of "Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)," "Through the Eyes of a Child").

At a ripe 19 years old, she is alarmingly earnest in the conveyance of her lyrics. Not since Lorde have we met such a young songstress so in-touch with the world around her -- but while Lorde was focused on hierarchical order and the state of society as we know it, Aurora concerns herself with the inner workings of the human mind and her connections with the organic world around her. She idealizes a cleansing death via drowning and a subsequent revitalization on the surface, longs for normality and security, embraces underlying bestial qualities, begs for childlike simplicity and innocence, pulls herself through bouts of depression -- all while her voice, pure and tinged with her native Norwegian accent, showcases the versatility and emotion needed to sell lyrics that would otherwise seem overinflated.

Her soundscapes, crafted with an eerie production niche that picks and chooses from subtle undertones of dream pop, synthpop, trip-hop, Celtic folk, traditional East Asian, and singer-songwriter, present themselves as cooperative backdrops under her command. For example, "Under the Water" builds to the urgency of being pulled beneath the water as drums begin to pound under her commands to "wash away the sin," before it all gives way to the placid dawn of companion track "Black Water Lillies." Similar swells are well-executed on "Warrior," "Winter Bird," and "Runaway," but when her lyrics need room to breathe, they get it. Resonating in a haunting a cappella fashion, she becomes (and can hold her own as) the focal point on "Home" when the core of her statement on depression is made; it happens again on "Winter Bird" and "Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)" when instrumentation is ripped away to reveal sparse vocal outros.

Aurora proves that a pop album doesn't have to void of love songs or veer into Grimes-type oddity to be quality. She has already mastered the art of crafting a stirring album: independent, trembling vocals, a healthy dose of authentic melodrama, and productions that obey their maestro, whether that means they become minor details that echo behind her or sweeping backdrops that bellow like mushroom clouds with her. She thrives on being moody and mysterious -- qualities that make her audience think, not just listen. As title, All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend in itself provokes a need for introspection without playing even one track; as an album, especially a debut, it's simply breathtaking.

All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend is out now under Glassnote Entertain Group. Standard and deluxe editions are available.

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