A poptastic debut and a perfect soundtrack to a wintry night.
Pixx – The Age of Anxiety
Discovering a great pop album is always a joy, and this delicious newie from a 21-year-old UK girl hits just the right mix of quirky and catchy. This kind of nostalgic-but-modern electropop is dime a dozen these days, however Pixx manages to stand out and sound genuinely refreshing and individual. She doesn’t seem like the strongest singer in the world, but her low clear vocals are quite pleasing and smooth, whether she sounds deadpan or dreamy. There’s an underlying undercurrent of edginess and, well, anxiety to her songs that makes for an interesting tension with the poppy hooks and pretty ethereal surfaces. Great debut, hopefully with greater things to come.
Agnes Obel – Aventine
I liked Philharmonics, the gorgeous and melancholic debut from this Danish songstress, but then it just sorta languished unloved on my shelf for years until I dug it out recently and went, wow this is some wonderful exquisite stuff, what else has she done since 2010? Two more albums, as it turned out. Aventine, the immediate follow-up, doesn’t stray too far from its predecessor, with more beautifully sad piano and strings, and Obel’s soft gentle vocals. There’s little variety in terms of mood and it’s definitely not an album for every time and season, but if caught at the right moment its insular, dark-fairytale world is utterly captivating. If I still lived in the northern hemisphere, the ideal time would be to listen to this record alone on a dark winter night, with the snowflakes falling outside, but a dark Melbourne night sans snowflakes works pretty well too.