by Chris Familton
Over the space of a few years Julia Holter has quickly established herself as a composer, songwriter and singer with a special talent for creating sonically exquisite music. Hers is a musical style that channels classical, jazz, folk, electronica and the avant-garde and Loud City Song stands as her most fascinating and fully realised album to date.
There is a feeling akin to stepping into a Lynchian gallery space when you encounter Holter’s music. Its ethereal qualities have seen her labelled as dream pop yet that is only one facet of her sound. Here it is a thread that runs through the songs; odes to and observations of her hometown of Los Angeles, but the real reward is how she takes that musical dreaminess and adds clarity and a real sense of purpose to the compositions. Maxim’s I is a stately percussive track that swells and skips along with both strings and synths coexisting effortlessly while Surrounding Me takes a dark swerve into ideas of fear complete with field recordings, dread-inducing horns and a stylistic nod to Bjork and CocoRosie in the drama of the vocals. Holter’s voice is always controlled, its enunciation often exaggerated with theatrical complexity and it operates as an instrument as effectively as it does as a vehicle for her lyrics. She multi-tracks herself into a playful choir on the single In The Green World and in He’s Running Through My Eyes she serenades with crystalline notes that shimmer and float over the piano beneath.
Loud City Song is a magical record in the sense of its transportive qualities yet it is also engaging, complex and playful. Musically it seamlessly blends experimental and pop forms into an enchanting balance of tradition and futurism.
this review was first published in The Music