Saturday, March 21, 2020

Review: Through Water • Låpsley

Låpsley occupies an odd space in music. A full-bodied, borderline androgynous contralto, her voice is conventionally attractive. But coming to age in the SoundCloud scouting era, she opts to meld traditional allure with minimalist electronic flair. Warm piano chords open her second full-length record, but the title track soon dives into buzzing synths and a vocal chop: "The majority of impacts will be felt through water. This is followed by the failure of litigation and adaptation," she recites from a speech that her father, who works in sustainable development, shared with her shortly before the song's composition. It is the urgent opening to a record that otherwise exercises self-care to shed life's complications.

Through Water breathes easier than her moody debut record. Connecting the synthetic with the organic, it blurs any hard lines in electronic instrumentation. A soft electronic hum and shimmering ambiance bubble between a thumping heartbeat on "Womxn," a mountaintop celebration of adulthood. As a beat spasms beneath "My Love Was Like The Rain," Låpsley paints poetry to connect humanity with the world’s natural beauty and disasters: “Remember when you said my love was like the rain? Not the sweet sound after the drought, but the pain of it hard on your back in a storm,” she reminisces before concluding with ownership. “So I embody these elements. I wear them like a fragrance.”

Though the record is deep and brooding, submerged in romantic struggle, it is more inclined to entertain the weightless fluidity within the floodwaters than the sensation of drowning. Rather than light her past lover's short fuse on the glistening "Bonfire," Låpsley is the splash of cool water when the flames begin to rekindle; likewise, she reveals how she nurtured the relationship to prosper on "Our Love is a Garden," an equally dreamy cut. Even piano ballad "Speaking of the End" refuses to fall somber as her gripping melody runs the record into a quiet end. This feeling of acceptance for the situations at hand acts as the backbone for Through Water, and when faced with disaster, Låpsley finds the beauty that breaks through the cracks of even the worst situations. 

Through Water is available now under XL Recordings.

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