released 2018, msmsmsm.
SOPHIE unleashes her first full length original album, a galactic mishmash of melody, noise and dense soundscapes. It’s one of the most intense and mentally stimulating music releases this year.
I’d like to start this review off with a quick runthrough of the singles, as they’re frontloaded onto the album in chronological order. I’d normally have an issue with a ballad like “It’s Okay to Cry” being the opener, but it is a strikingly poignant song with a beautiful message that gives a bit of humanity to an otherwise excessively glitchy and robotic album. “Ponyboy” and “Faceshopping” are two of the most aggressive offerings and it really feels like a hell of a bitchslap hearing them one after the other. Those not accustomed to SOPHIE’s style may find this section of the album to be a bit of a hard listen, but if you manage to stick it out, you will be generously rewarded. There’s a hint of softness in “Faceshopping”‘s twinkly middle eight to offer some relief!
“Is it Cold in the Water?” is what i’d call some sort of neo trance operatic dirge, with its cascading synths and emotive vocals courtesy of Cecile Believe (in what I feel is her best moment on this record). It’s quite brilliant. “Infatuation” maintains the slower pace and also gives the listener (or maybe just me) a bit of an introspective moment (as this is totally something I’d acid trip to).
“Not Okay” suffers from being short, but it excels in being absolutely sweet. A sub 2 minute audio journey that offers some of the lushest soundscapes on Oil, this song definitely stuck with me and I’d love to hear a live edit. “Pretending” serves as an interlude (at least to me it does), bridging us into the final act of the album with its atmospheric and dissonant arrangement. I feel like this track is one of the more experimental songs, it being devoid of a traditional structure may turn casual listeners off, but if you’ve been around the block with the ambient or noise genres, you’ll feel at ease with a track like this being mixed in.
Our second to last offering is the ever so bouncy “Immaterial”, and it’s the poppiest and easily most accessible recording on “Oil”. An upbeat rhythm and deviously catchy vocal lines coalesce into the most pleasurable experience on this album (if you somehow weren’t into any of the singles at the beginning). Something else I noticed is that this song really sounds similar to another of SOPHIE’s productions, the Miku Hatsune/Namie Amuro collaborative track “B Who I Want 2 B”. I love that track too, but maybe this was SOPHIE’s attempt at recapturing that magic for her domestic audience/those that missed the Amuro song? Either way, it works.
“Whole New World / Pretend World” is a nearly 10 minute opus that is truly the shining moment on this album for me. SOPHIE’s production wizardry operates in full force here, with the first half being an urgent glitchy electro mess that works as it then deviates into a shoegaze-esque wall of dissonant noise that carries us to the end of the runtime in spectacularly experimental fashion. There’s a lot of technological prowess at work here, (hell, across the whole record if we’re giving credit where it’s due) and i’m glad SOPHIE chose this piece to end the record on. It’s simply amazing.
“Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-insides” may not be for everyone, and those who give it a whirl may even need multiple playthroughs to digest and understand it, but I truly believe those that invest into this record wholeheartedly will find it to be one of the best releases of 2018, a record that will have longevity as a ‘fresh’ album in the years to come of the ever aging and dated electronic genre.
- It’s okay to cry ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Ponyboy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Faceshopping ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Is it cold in the water? ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Infatuation ⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Not okay ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Pretending ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Immaterial ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
- Whole new world / pretend world ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Must Listen: It’s Okay to Cry, Not Okay, Immaterial
(The most accessible and simultaneously rewarding songs that shouldn’t be missed)
Skip : Pretending, Infatuation
(I HATE this, but I feel like the casual listener would not find these tracks enjoyable.)