Seattle indie-popper Briana Marela returns with her second album, titled Call It Love. The sleeve art leads the listener into the record perfectly: Marela, with her pop-talented vocals and songwriting, is cloaked by ambient mist, rendering her semi-visible. It’s a great mix, with the ambient production touches adding intrigue and detail to the songs. Call It Love is out on Jagjaguwar.
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This bewilderingly lush record is, somehow, a pop hit. Briana Marela has coated these songs over and over, in thick layers of fog and club bass throb, but they still come to the heart clear and hard. Call It Love is a good title for the record: it suggests a more obtuse version of itself, further away and harder to understand, before coasting in on a hook and saying it like it is.
In this huge, panoramic production, Marela plays out songs that can be busy without feeling it: "Last Time" is a scorching ballad full of oscillations, haughty beats and operatic choir singing, but they all devise something that feels solo, Marela's vocal taking the song and centering it as if this was all incidental environment noise. "He Knows" is swirling with distant chord changes and ambient fog, but Marela once again puts a real melodic song into this ether, as if she were carving into vapour.
Going in on electro-pop is also a winner for Marela, who creates tinkering cuts along the lines of Blue Hawaii and their sister band Braids; the record's title track is a lovely mix of jittering beatwork and beaming synth patterns, the two sounding earthy amidst the miasma. This whole record it sounds like Marela is trying to introduce earth to the spirits, and she succeeds -- it's pop music from another plain.
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