Quiet City Experiments – Dave’s Review

This past fortnight, we have been listening to Loud City Song by Julia Holter. The title is perhaps a little misleading at first, as the album is neither Loud nor what you would call Song in the traditional sense. Instead, it is delicate, gentle and experimental. Perhaps the album is meant as an antidote for Loud Cities? I’m not sure.

 The opener, Words, is perhaps the most experimental of the record, and comes as quite a surprise upon first listen. The song is almost entirely a capella, with backing ‘ah’s and ooh’s’ providing the only accompaniment for the first verse, applied in the spaces between each line. This creates a haunting atmosphere of unease, which grows throughout the song, added to by the intriguing lyrics that culminate with the line “How can I escape you?”

On the whole, the album is very calming and, for me, this is where the album is at its best. Despite it’s witches’ spell-like middle section, Maxim’s I is light and airy with the soft rustling of cymbals providing a smoothing percussion. Similarly, He’s Running Through My Eyes and This Is A True Heart make the second half of the record stronger than the first.

The most beautiful part of the record comes with the middle track, Hello Stranger. Slow and hazy, with faint whispers of seagulls, the song feels as if it is taking place in a dream. Julia’s vocals carry a simple message that is easy to connect with in comparison to the surreal lyrics featured elsewhere in the album. “Hello Stranger. It seems so good to see you back again. How long has it been?”. Closing track, City Appearing, comes a close second and rounds off the record nicely.

★★★☆☆

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