Well, this is a real treat. Right now, go find yourself some really good headphones. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
Got them? Great. Now make sure you won’t be interrupted for an hour. Then spin up Eliza Hull’s debut album – ‘The Bones Of Us’. Trust me, this is going to be good.
‘Walk Away’ opens the album with an ominous rhythm that is more heartbeat than drumbeat. Hull’s voice floats in with spooky reverberation and a dark foreboding tone. The effect is not unlike FKA Twigs’ latest offerings. Later, an organ and military snare build the track up in a way that would make 1997 Björk proud.
The next track is ‘Caught’ – with a refreshingly lighter tone. From the beginning, Hull’s brighter vocals are underscored by understated piano and hand claps. The heavier drums in the chorus bring a welcome sense of arrival and drama. The climax toward the end of the song gives us a surprising chime-like electric guitar that almost sounds like church bells. The overall effect is affirming and uplifting.
‘Christopher’ takes us downtempo again. The deceptively sparse introduction makes way for a pop-infused chorus that wouldn’t be out of place on a Katy Perry chill-out ballad. This one’s a treat on headphones too – the subtle sparkling synths are a real head-turner.
The fourth track – ‘Used To’ – features Texture Like Sun. Taking a turn for the acoustic, this track features a lush harp as its feature instrument. Introducing organ and horns, it almost feels like something Florence + The Machine would release if Ms Welch mellowed out a little. Texture Like Sun’s guest vocals fit perfectly here too – lending a gorgeous texture and colour.
‘Skeleton’ brings us back to dark (and almost sinister) sonic texture of ‘Walk Away’. Strangely, the modulation to major chords in the chorus produce an effect not unlike switching the radio station. Or perhaps like viewing the scene from another angle, revealing a different side to the story. The reversed strings lend a somewhat psychedelic flavour to the end of the song.
‘My Army’ is the strange member of the family. Not quite sure where it fits in, it doesn’t seem to have a distinct character or personality. Don’t be mistaken – it’s a lovely song, and certainly worth your time. Only in the context of the whole album does it become overshadowed by the other excellent tracks around it.
‘Satellite’ is the breather before the final stretch. It starts out quite unassuming, but builds gradually and gorgeously. Look out for the sublime harp swells about two-thirds of the way in. The final chorus revisits Katy Perry territory, but don’t get the sense this is pop-lite. This is a different context and effect.
Surprisingly, ‘Dreamer’ starts out even more stripped-back than ‘Satellite’. But check out those vocals in the chorus! Hull reveals an almost operatic tone to her voice. In a sense, it’s a shame she waited so late in the album to show it off. The end is even better – it’s as magnificent as it is understated. The final lone phrases take a turn for the electronic – combining a kind of autotune/vocoder texture underneath Hull’s vocals.
The haunting piano chords of ‘Bella Lou’ are heart stopping, but it’s the backing vocals in the chorus that really steal the show. It’s unfair how amazing this sounds. Do yourself a favour and glue your headphones to your ears. Put your phone somewhere you won’t find it. Like at the bottom of the Yarra. And let yourself melt away. It’s that good.
The album rounds off with ‘Head Above Water’ – a comfortable mid-tempo song that provides a very real sense of arrival and closure. Not too dark, not to dramatic, it’s a graceful conclusion to an impressive album.
Eliza Hull has a lot to be proud of. Her debut album is outstanding and deserves to be heard far and wide. Background music it is not. It’s a deep and detailed piece of art that rewards close and repeated listens.
Eliza releases her debut album “The Bones of Us” on Friday 17 April 2015 @ Howler, 7-11 Dawson Street, Brunswick.
$10 entry & supported by Lydia Goldthorpe + Haarlo
The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Melting Pot.
Kim writes about the human side of music production (attitudes, psychology, workflow, etc) on his blog (blog.kimlajoie.com) and other websites. He also teaches music composition at Monash University and runs the record label Obsessive Music.