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By Aurora

Steeped in gelid electronic textures, pulsing beats, and yearning modalities, Aurora's All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend also blends vivid lyrical imagery with parts fantasy and heartache for a haunting full-length debut. The 12-track album by Norwegian singer and songwriter Aurora Aksnes includes two European charters from her prior EP, 2015's Running with the Wolves. Both gray-shaded numbers about being out of place, "Runaway" and "Running with the Wolves" turn out to be the average of what the substantial LP offers rather than standouts. With a soundscape that finds danger lurking in the corners, "Runaway" has echoing water droplet effects, creeping screeches, and windswept transitions among its sparse arrangement and lyrics like "I was running far away, would I run off the world some day?" What sets Aurora apart from the field of dark, spare electro-pop (Lorde, Lykke Li) are elaborate, soaring melodies and a pure, lilting soprano that on several tracks seems presented with minimal studio tampering, an impression made more likely by the singer's reputation for live performance. While much of the album is brooding if not downright wretched -- "Murder Song" has the protagonist recounting the story of her own death, though lyrics are tempered by a club-ready mix -- it's not without moments of lightness. The rousing "Conqueror" is sweetly melodic and decidedly perkier than anything on her debut EP. A song like "I Went Too Far" has a solemn text but an uplifting, synth-swirling chorus and dance-insistent beat. One of the lasting impressions of All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend, as suggested by its title, is a supernatural aura created not just by spacy electronics but by the songwriter's nature-themed lyrics that have her regularly identifying with or immersing herself in the elements ("Walking in my sleep like the naked trees"). Titles like "Black Water Lilies" and "Winter Bird" denote songs about overcoming forces both in the natural and mental realms. Still a teenager at the time of the album's release, Aurora proves to be an already skilled fashioner of dynamic, affecting pop. ~ Marcy Donelson

  • Format: Vinyl
  • Genre: Pop