Having crafted two remarkable records between the four walls of her house, ‘Loud City Song’ marks the studio debut for one of the most spellbinding talents making music today.
While those earlier releases had roots in classical literature, here Julia Holter finds her influences closer to home, and to more modern times. Partly inspired by a 1958 film adaptation of French novella ‘Gigi’, prompting thoughts of the voyeuristic nature of her native land of Los Angeles, ‘Loud City Song’ is an album that works hard to conjure a world and capture an audience.
‘Horns Surrounding Me’, driven by the looped sound of a slightly distorted parp, conveys the creeping oppression of the bustle at a city’s heart. Synths go off like fireworks, field recordings from a busy street drift in and out, and the intensity ebbs and flows like rush-hour traffic. Elsewhere, Holter’s vocals often function as an additional instrument: muffled and echoed, or mellifluous and protracted.
The amorphous sweeps of sound at times call to mind the beautiful headspace of Talk Talk’s ‘Spirit Of Eden’, with individual songs gradually seeming less important than the mood as a whole. ‘Maxim’s II’, with its curiously affected, Björk-like delivery, rises to a quite staggering cacophonous crescendo, only for the sober ‘He’s Running Through My Eyes’ to serenely fill the massive gap left by its conclusion.
Although it takes more than a couple of listens for ‘Loud City Song’ to feel like a cohesive album, the reward once you do is well worth the outlay.
Words: Gareth James
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Yup, it's so good we've run two videos with the review.
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