Briana Marela – All Around Us

An adorable short and sweet suite...

From the opening bars of Briana Marela's adorable second LP it's clear a substantial debt is owed to Iceland's Sigur Rós. Marela has long cited them as among her most significant influences, and this short and sweet suite allowed her to tick one off the ol' bucket list by recording in Reykjavik with Rós producer Alex Somers.

What saves the record from being a lacklustre, sotto-voiced tribute act is that, strikingly, Briana herself is a cookie-cutter Northwest coast hippie. The bulk of emotional traction on 'All Around Us' therefore derives from the brightness and optimism of her lyrics, juxtaposed with the glacial viking production. For instance 'Dani', a lachrymose waltz production-wise, lyrically entreats "Trust yourself / All things can happen when you wait".

Cheesy? Perhaps, a little. If positivity isn't your bag, then the sweet naivety of lines like "Don't come back to my bed tonight / I just need a friend tonight" aren't going to thaw your icy heart any time soon. On a related note, standout track 'Surrender' could be accused of erring a little on the Enya side, but (as throughout the album) effects, loops and electronics are tastefully applied, chiselling breathtaking ice sculptures of harmony around the hot coals of Marela's childlike gaiety.

"Will be always be so young?" she asks on 'Friend Tonight'. We rather hope so.


Words: Andy Hill

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