There are some things in life I just don’t get. This is an album that is nominated for an award (the Independent Music Awards, which is a thing since this year’s is the 17th annual) and, on top of that, it has a video for Heart Shaped Hole that has been played over 3 million times on Youtube. (Once I get past the break for the photo I’ll embed the video, which is rather well-done to be honest.)
So why didn’t I like it, feeling that it was way too oversampled, overdramatic, and just plain fussy? (That and I really hate album covers that deface a face, so to speak.)
Maybe it goes with an artistic vision that I, a simple guy who spent his formative years watching corn grow in rural northwest Ohio, can’t figure out for the life of me. But it has pretty pictures and colors.
When I listened to it on Bandcamp, one of the sub-genres listed for it was “experimental pop” and maybe that’s the best description. Heart Shaped Hole is one of those experiments which succeeds, as well as Puppet Strings and Angel. Romano is an interesting song but I don’t know Japanese to understand the lyrics – ironically, it’s a song performed the least in Alya’s breathy singing style. That way of singing – admittedly, it’s been pulled off on a regular basis in the music industry – is what makes songs like Animals and Seven miss the mark.
The amount of experimentation in the songs seems to dictate how well they work. If the song is simple, like the ballad Hachiko, it comes off all right. But placing the vocals too far under the music as is done on Half of the Sun, or making Twenty Six a the song that made me think of the “fussy and overdramatic” description – well, that doesn’t work. Truly, I was relieved when the “let’s throw a lot of stuff at the wall and see what sticks” closing song Colorful Dreams came to an end because I was finished sitting through this.
Done with her vocals and a single producer, who presumably did all of the instrumentation, I think Alya’s vision for what was apparently a project long in the works just doesn’t match up with mine. It may match up with yours, though, so if you don’t mind Spotify you can judge for yourself.
There are fewer pretty colors there, though.