Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Emilie Nicolas - Like I'm A Warrior

Emilie Nicolas - Like I'm A Warrior

Perhaps it's the cold weather, or the long dark nights, but Nordic singers just seem to 'get' heartbreak. 2014 saw the release of Lykke Li's 'I Never Learn', a raw depiction of stark emotion, and earlier this year Susanne Sundfør offered a schizophrenic approach in 'Ten Love Songs'.

Emilie Nicolas follows suit with her debut album. There are moments of sexual aggression, but they're tinged with a sense of sad desperation. "Don't call me lazy", she snarls on Fail, "I go down on him daily", whilst on Charge she notes "you bring out the wolf in me".

Mostly, though, her music is drenched in melancholy. It's no surprise there's a track here called Melancholia which ends with Nicolas singing "die" repeatedly in sweet, cooing falsetto. The evocative Us, meanwhile, begins with the crushing lyric "I was never yours was I? You were never mine were you?", heavy with heartbreaking realisation. Even the album's most obvious pop track, Pstereo, is laden with sadness in its fluttering melody and fizzing production. With the overall dark and sombre tone, liquid synths and clattering, industrial beats, 'Like I'm A Warrior' is almost the sonic personification of 'Nordic-noir'.

Yet the widescreen cinematic textures and yearning melodies, if anything, offer cathartic release. The nostalgic Grown Up (featuring on the soundtrack to Danish thriller A Second Chance) is a key example: Nicolas repeats the mantra "I've grown up", tainted with doubt, as if to convince herself before reaching an almighty crescendo. On Put Me Down, the vocal lines seep into the next like a stream of consciousness, accompanied by a whirr of noisy production. And on opening track Nobody Knows, Nicolas addresses herself directly - "And what's in your heart, my sweet Emilie, they all will see" - sung over production with jazz-like freedom and palpitating electronic beats.

This is an album, then, that travels through the mixed emotions of an ending relationship: sadness, anger, desperation, hope. And alongside these emotions there's polished and detailed electronic production that shows restraint in the face of melodrama; pain and misery in the heavy beats, stabbing strings and icy synths; beauty in the breakdown. Yet as the title suggests, Nicolas is a fighter who will push past the heartbreak - her steely lyrics assure of that.

4/5

Gizzle's Choice:
* Grown Up
* Us
* Pstereo

Listen: 'Like I'm A Warrior' is available now.