A cohesive, nuanced, highly impressive statement...

The dark take on pop music means her songs dig deep on this intriguing, and at times, strange adventure, and Katie Von Schleicher’s latest project is more complex than anything she has released before.

The idea of being unable to connect psychic distance between one individual and another has become the subject of exploration on ‘Consummation’. References and influences are manifold and far-reaching, with plenty of sonic and lyrical variety. The theme of abuse as seen in Vertigo by Hitchcock struck a chord in Schleicher who instantly realised this would be the foundation of this album.

Synth, guitar lines, a selection of beats and low-fi production values form the basis of this record. Seemingly, it is about creating a place where dark dream-like electro-pop is as important as melodic guitars and vocals and classic reference points from film and literature equal musical elements.

Theatrical and eccentric in places, it represents an encounter between the calm and what is more down to earth. Lyrically, there is cohesion. The singer asks if or how a love that destroys can be love at all, it becomes the overriding theme of the album.

Opening track ‘You Remind Me’ is impressive. Lyrics are whispered through layers of reverb, and Elliott Smith-inspired vocals depict a tight stylistic match. Drum machines and synth create the foundation. The vibe changes on ‘Nowhere’, a song that touches on insomnia when you are alone in the dark, whereas, ‘Caged Sleep’ offers a faster, more energetic pace, it is about anxiety.

An admirer of Kate Bush, Schleicher takes vocal inspiration from the iconic singer on tracks such as ‘Loud’, ‘Strangest Thing’ and ‘Messenger’, with the latter making use of dream-like Cocteau Twins inspired atmospherics, and ‘Strangest Thing’ also showing depth and imagination.

An increased sense of drama is found on ‘Brutality’, a song that deals with isolation and anger, before the delicate sounds on ‘Gross’ help tackle a friend’s suicide, but the upbeat mood on ‘Hammer’ offers comfort.

The good news is that the singer comes closer to a conclusion. On ‘Nothing Lasts’, the final song on the album, Schleicher seems to find peace after what’s been a fascinating but intense journey.

8/10

Words: Susan Hansen

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