Well this is a turn out for the books.
V V Brown may be something of a household name following breakout hit Shark In The Water from her doo-wop style debut album 'Travelling Like The Light' (2009), but it's taken the London singer four years to release any new material. Since splitting from Island Records, Brown has been free to experiment - not only with a career in fashion, but with her latest, avant-garde album 'Samson & Delilah' released on her own label. The result is one of the most unusual and unique albums of the year - something that deserves to be celebrated.
Influenced by the likes of Bjork, 'Samson & Delilah' is a concept album based on the biblical story. As such it's a suitably dramatic album, with a futuristic gospel sound. Church organs collide with sub bass and disco beats, whilst yearning, chant-like melodies are evocatively archaic. The overall effect is electronic yet ethereal and as gothic as a grand cathedral drenched in strobing, neon moonlight: sombre, downbeat and haunting.
Paralleling the musical development is Brown's vocal, which sits somewhere between opera and Grace Jones. It lends the music an otherworldly feel that's enhanced by the use of vocoded effects. On I Can Give You More especially, Brown sings like some seraphic, godly presence calling out from the beyond.
The production sets up a consistent sonic world across the album, though there are some standout tracks. Opener Substitute For Love slowly and hypnotically weaves its magic into your consciousness; previous release Samson is characterised by rolling percussion and its calling "what you waiting for?" chorus lyric; current single The Apple is a delicious slice of late-night disco. And amongst the dance rhythms there's still room for some balladry: most noticeable on the beautifully mesmeric Faith and the emotionally charged lyrics and muffled vocal of Knife, on which Brown laments a past relationship ("I don't really feel like crying, there's no tears here anymore"). Then there's the violent bass rumbles of Igneous and the shimmering atmospherics of Looking For Love - the list goes on...
Ultimately, this is a call to forget the pop aesthetic of Brown's earlier material. 'Samson & Delilah' is a remarkable artistic release, a biblical vision brought to musical life through incredible use of mood and drama. Nothing else sounds quite like it.
* Substitute For Love
* The Apple
Listen: 'Samson & Delilah' is available now.