Compared to the warm, sample-heavy bedroom folk of her debut Isolation Loops and her mood-shifting, mood-altering sophomore effort My Electric Family, the latest album from Bachelorette is icy, distant, and minimal. Opting for the self-titled three albums in, Bachelorette exudes a particular air of foreboding… at least comparatively. That makes sense, considering the album was recorded and assembled in locales of turbulence, such as her native Christchurch, New Zealand (which suffered a devastating earthquake earlier this year) and, interestingly, Tripoli, Libya (I assume you’re aware of that nation’s current strife).
Bachelorette establishes its overarching haunting mood early on with opener “Grow Old With Me,” a sparse meditation featuring Annabelle Alpers’ trademark resonant, come-with-me-if-you-want-to-live vocals over a bed of crackling ambient textures. This leads into the cavernous ballad “The Light Seekers,” a song that simultaneous sees Alpers at her most morose and hopeful. The album then turbo charges with lead single “Blanket,” an analog electro banger with both the fuzz and sting of a bumblebee, followed by the start-stop space disco blast of “Polarity Party.” “Generous Spectre” is a delightful, precise joyride down Kraftwerk’s stretch of the Autobahn, and “Sugarbug” embraces the Bark Psychosis-evocative volcanic slowburn. While Bachelorette imbues various songwriting approaches, the album cohesively conveys a visceral anxiety and detachment. Its fractured construction is intriguing, but ultimately proves a more challenging listen than previous works. Hooks and melodies are not as obvious, but when they shine through, Bachelorette soars. The Future Shock lament of “Digital Brain” is a damn near perfect dream pop diamond, as is the melted, deconstructed post-folk of “Waveforms.”
As mentioned, Bachelorette is a decidedly different beast. Alpers’ instantly recognizable blend of electro-folk and space age pop, sardonic OK Computer-evocative lyricism, and futuristic, Stepford Wife vocal play remains fully in tact. However, the intimacy of Isolation Loops and slash-and-burn, barn burnin’ battle cries of My Electric Family are wholly absent. As such, Bachelorette comes across as a transitional record – the sound of an artist wanting to move into more abstract territories without losing pop accessibility. In that sense, Bachelorette is a bit uneven. That’s not to say that Bachelorette is not a winner – when the ideas found throughout Alpers’ latest are truly realized, it’s a home run. Don’t read into the eponymous title of this record – Bachelorette is a definitive statement. Rather, it encapsulates Bachelorette’s innate desire to explore all the possibilities of a solo artist. I have no doubt her best work is ahead of her.
Bachelorette just dropped this week on the mighty Drag City label. You’d do well to scope it and judge for yourself.
POSSIBLY RELATED :::
Bachelorette – My Electric Family
Bachelorette – Blanket