Anyone who has ever heard Alexandra Savior’s Belladonna of Sadness will remember what a great debut it was, in collaboration with Artic Monkey’s Alex Turner. Interestingly, it was something of a surprise when her record company decided to drop Savior from their roster, citing that it wasn’t the modern pop record they were looking for. I kind of felt bad for her because I thought she had some really good ideas on that record, particularly with her dreamy lyrics and haunting atmospheric moments. I have to say I don’t like all the Lana Del Rey comparisons, but will concede there are wonderful elements of dream pop something Del Rey has made a niche out of. But if I had to compare Savior to anyone, I kind of like the idea of a smoky noir version of Amy Winehouse. Maybe not so much the powerful vocal range but certainly the sassy attitude.
Anyway, the story goes that for a short while after losing her record deal, Savior felt jaded and in particularly she felt like she had been terribly taken advantage of by manipulative forces in the music industry. At the time Savior was also struggling with an unhealthy personal relationship, which in turn brought about a whole lot of feelings to the surface.
In her own words, Savior recently explained: “I was very young and naive when I first left home and came into the music industry. I think I was prey for a lot of those sort of characters to come in and control what I was doing. I never felt I was being seen for who I was; I was being seen for what they could push me into and what was most sellable. It was only when I was rejected by those forces when I began to have a voice…”
That said, it doesn’t come as a surprise that her new album The Archer looks back at some of the turmoil she recently felt in her life. It is littered with themes about heartache and depression that play out hauntingly over ten cinematic-inspired tracks. Interestingly, on its creative process, Savior also noted “there was a weight lifted off of me and I feel like so much has opened up to me.”
As a result, Savior says she has a lot less anxiety nowadays. She appears to be a young woman on a mission, writing her own songs, creating her own album’s artwork and even taking creative control of her own music videos. Importantly, second time around Savior has a new record deal with friend and collaborator Danger Mouse on his label, 30th Century Records.
Combing through the songs on The Archer, I must say I really struggle to single out a favourite track. Though I will admit I’m a little bit smitten at the moment by Soft Currents, the gentle piano album opener. Standouts include Saving Grace, Crying All The Time, Howl and The Archer, on an album charged with both style and vulnerability. Like a cinema soundtrack, it seamlessly ebbs between dream pop, desert rock and psychedelic rock, as Savior’s hypnotic vocals and gut wrenching lyrics help it to play out like a tragic Hollywood noir story.
In short, it is easily one of the first noteworthy albums of the new year that you can to get lost in its brave execution.