Agnes Obel – ‘Broken Sleep’.
The Danish classically trained singer songwriter, Agnes Obel’s new album Myopia is one big moody mournful album that deserves to be heard. Honestly, there is so much to admire about how Obel goes about her business. Interestingly, I read that Myopia was recorded in creative isolation at Obel’s Berlin studio at night, so it kind of makes sense to me to want to listen to it in its entirety on my own and in the dark, soaking up Obel’s atmospheric chamber pop and haunting vocals.
While the grief stricken Island of Doom is one of the albums best tracks, I’m drawn often to Broken Sleep, a curious track about restlessness. Obel said in a press release earlier this year that Broken Sleep “was surprisingly enough, written in a period where I was struggling with falling asleep. In the effort to find a cure I began to read about the science of sleep as well as the cultural history of sleep which led me to the ancient idea that sleep and death are familiar states and problems with sleep are linked to a fear of death…”
Interestingly, I’m strangely now reminded of another song that deals with sleep and death even if it is a little tongue in cheek. The song that I am alluding to is Sleep When I’m Dead by Bon Jovi. Anyway, while we all contemplate that for a moment, I still recommend that you check out Obel’s evocative track here below.
Fiona Apple – ‘Heavy Balloon’.
While you won’t hear Fiona Apple’s Fetch The Bolt Cutters on the radio, major music publications will have you believe that her album is so far 2020 most outstanding release. Jenn Pelly from Pitchfork gave “Bolt Cutters” a perfect 10: “No music has ever sounded quite like it… It’s not pretty. It’s free.” The Guardian called it “a strange and exceptional album. And Rolling Stone hailed it “a triumphant statement of self-discovery and solidarity.”
For the record I am a big fan of Fiona Apple and it’s certainly a thrill to have Fetch The Bolt Cutters join her impressive back catalogue. Personally though I’m not so sure it’s the best album of the year (so far). Don’t get me wrong, it’s definitely an exceptional album, and for those of us still hiding away from the world, we will undoubtedly find something interesting in Apple’s poignant commentary, even after such a long absence. (Apple’s last album was 2012’s The Idler Wheel…) Take for example Apple’s lyrics in Relay: “Evil is a relay sport, when the one who’s burned, turns to pass the torch” in Relay. Or how about “You get dragged down, down to the same spot enough times in a row / The bottom begins to feel like the only safe place that you know” in Heavy Balloon.
While both sets of lyrics are memorable for different reasons, especially in how Apple sees the world, the latter in particular feels like something many of us can relate to.
Tame Impala – ‘Lost In Yesterday’.
Kevin Parker aka Tame Impala is still my favourite Bee Gee. I guess that is why I’m so impressed by his latest album The Slow Rush. It’s an album awash with disco beats and synth sounds, something that he began and consciously strived for five years ago on his last album Currents. While some of his psychedelic rock roots from his first two albums still filter through on The Slow Rush, Parker is definitely a musician interested in evolution and maybe even pop perfection. With an array of great tracks I’m hard pressed to single out just one here. But when push comes to shove I’m still really taken by Lost In Yesterday, which was incidentally released way back in January prior to the release of the new album. It’s a track that feels bittersweet as Parker yearns for the past with lyrics like “When we were livin’ in squalor, wasn’t it Heaven?” But in contrast to that Parker also reminds us that “eventually terrible memories turn into great ones.”