Every single Friday, we find and collate the best albums released this week so you don’t have to. Look no further than right here for your weekend listening material.
Lydia Ainsworth – Darling of the Afterglow
Fans of Kate Bush and new-age pop should look no further than here for their album of the week. Ainsworth creates an otherworldly feel, combining richly textured and experimental instrumentation with gothic but lavishly catchy pop melodies. Perhaps the album highlight, “Open Doors” sandwiches an uplifting, Disney-friendly chorus with strange whispering vocals at the beginning and disjointed, percussive string at the end. It’s eccentric and unorthodox like the rest of the record, but it’s an effortlessly catchy banger. Throughout this album, Lydia Ainsworth manages to remind me of Kate Bush, Yeasayer, Jenny Hval, Evanescence and Holly Herndon, all whilst undoubtedly possessing a recognisable and striking individuality. Darling of the Afterglow is a sprawling electronic avant-garde pop album that manages to retain its listenability, whilst still persevering with a pervasive unconventionality.
Julia Holter – In the Same Room
A studio recording of a live set from Julia and her band, In the Same Room features live performances of some of Julia Holter’s strongest songs. Featuring tracks from Tragedy (2011), Loud City Song (2013) and the magnificent Have You in My Wilderness (2015), it’s in the stunning opulence of Holter’s live show wherein this extended recording shines. The album is titled ‘In the Same Room’ for a reason. Holter wants us to feel as if we’re there and this is undoubtedly achieved. The production, or indeed the lack thereof, removes the finish of an album recording; we hear the reverberations of each instrument and each percussive beat, Julia’s sharp intakes of breath, the rustlings of those around her and of course the slightest of imperfections that are inevitable in any live performance. It’s a dazzling reminder of Julia Holter’s prowess as an artist, writer and performer.
Pharmakon – Contact
Not exactly one for the fainthearted, Contact is the third studio album of Margaret Chardiet’s Noise project Pharmakon. Previous album Bestial Burden (2014) received high praise for its graphic, raw expression of a harrowing and painful experience wherein Chardiet needed emergency surgery on an internal organ. Contact follows on from Bestial Burden as a frantic discordance between physical experience and the mind. A panic attack in the form of sound, the album is a furious assault of shattering shrieks, foreboding bass and electrifying bursts of industrial noise. Deeply experimental and inaccessible by everyday standards, Contact can feel like an unbreachable onslaught of your senses. But whilst many noise albums can sometimes feel a little devoid of meaning, the expression of internal struggle and physical pain could not be any more palpable in Pharmakon’s Contact.