Kevin’s (Late) Pick for 2013 Album of the Year
It’s night time. The ground at your feet is vacated and intimate, and your cheeks are blushing from the frisky cold wind. You put your hood up in a bitter reservation from the faint rain droplets that caress you gently. The sky appears to have descended and the shadows in the trees suggest leaves are disappearing into the air. Headlights shoot glances from somewhere behind you but they abandon you time after time. Your pathway is barren and you feel like the only conscious thought streaming for blocks. You space out, transparent lens flares forming in your eyesight, the night becoming insidiously hazy. You put your hands in your coat pockets and retreat; the winds dissipate and your previous sense of dread blossoms into a deep appreciation for your desolation. You get closer to the city and the lights in the street intensify while the lights in your mind are dimmed.
Loud City Song is also vacated and intimate, only instead of basking in desolation, it adorns it. It is an immaculately crafted album, forged with warm, pristine electronics, cathartic strings and a voice that can truly only be called Julia Holter’s own. Instruments are arranged carefully and powerfully, and reek with playful exuberance in great contrast to the otherwise very calm atmosphere, her eccentric vocals being the prime catalyst. On the album’s fifth track, Holter expertly takes the Barbara Lewis song “Hello Stranger” and personalizes it with graceful mastery, taking the R&B classic and elevating it up with her serene, ethereal vocals to an intensively beautiful state of dreamy, slow moving ambient bliss. Elsewhere, as on “In the Green Wild,” her singing is ephemeral and playful, surreal yet meticulously under control, as seems to be the nature of the album on the whole.
Consistently throughout Loud City Song, Holter exhibits a clear artistic vision and an excelling penchant for songwriting (look no further than the thumping grandeur that is “Horns Surrounding Me”), and every instrument, including her voice, feels like a vital piece of the greater puzzle. The atmosphere is vivid and the rewards are lavishly buried beneath layers of consistently exciting ideas. Nothing from 2013 quite did what this album did and I f–king love it. Now, I’ve waxed poetic and dissected the music and I’m getting giddy and want to go listen to it again. Seriously, if you like good music, listen to this album.
“Hello Stranger” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TrX9_qaN9M
“Horns Surrounding Me” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uulY9Qyp0sI
Everything else http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcA81JKm5Ro