Album Review - Lauren Stevenson: The Big Freeze
“Amaze them with your old fantastic”
Stevenson loses her lo-fi punk rock roots to release her most sincere, and stellar release to date. Her beautiful voice, and luscious harmonies take centre stage, with the subtle instrumentation only coming to the forefront at some very choice moments. This stylistic choice definitely provides the record with a very different feel to her previous outings, and certainly to its benefit.
Opener “Lay back, Arms out” immediately states her claim, setting the subdued tone of the album to come.
“I’m a broken record
Come wriggle out from underneath me
Tied around the middle
Not incorrupt and rotting out
When you lift the lid I will be liquid
All swimming in my skin
There’s a sweetness to that”
That sweetness being a definite lyrical centre point to the album, Stevenson speaks with unflinching honesty throughout the album’s duration. The insightful biting lyrics cut deep despite their ambiguity. Gone are the immediately catching choruses, instead replaced with slow drawn out, and bitter refrains. This rewards the listener upon repeated listens, with each full turn of the album revealing subtle points of musicality easily missed upon a single run.
“Dermatillomania” harks back to the style of her previous album Cocksure with its upbeat positive sounding nature, (Despite its rather dark subject matter). Stevenson battles serious matters here with a poetic, mature, and stylistic flair. Never sounding at all preachy when touching on matters that could easily come across as overtly pleading.
The frankly euphoric “Low Slow” is an album highlight. Providing the album’s catharsis, emotionally and dynamically, with everything flooding out at once towards the latter half of the track.
The album leaves you with a message of unwarranted optimism despite its melancholic nature. “You are burdened by only your dangerous mind” is the statement that ends “Hum”, and is the message that resonates most strongly. Stevenson has grown in maturity and musicality over the years she has been active, and frankly it has been a delight to witness. And well...
“There’s a sweetness to that”