I’ve always had an affinity for self titled albums that were not the artist’s debut. Think Carpenters, Blur, Echo & The Bunnymen, Love and Rockets, Fleetwood Mac. In their own way, these records are all statements of intent from their creators, in some cases landmark records that encapsulate the quintessential qualities of the artists. A self-titled debut makes a splash, but often are scattershot collections of already released singles; they just don’t have the same sense of self-knowledge and understanding as those later career eponymous discs do.
Maybe that just my interpretation, but my hypothesis certainly rings true on Hannah Georgas, album number two from the fiery-haired Vancouver singer songwriter who made the nation stand and take notice with her debut This is Good. This time out, Hannah Georgas and producer Graham Walsh of Holy Fuck have taken her compositions (written primarily on piano) and fleshed them out with electronic sounds, processed beats, and layers of squelchy synth sounds. The songs still pop like those of her debut, but there’s also a fair bit of snap and crackle thrown in for good measure. “Millions” is the bridge across her previous guitar based sarcasm and the more earnest electro-pop of its nine companion tracks. Georgas has said that much of this record is based on programmed drums and synths, but there’s a healthy dose of live playing over top, adding that elusive human quality that electronic music sometimes misses.
“Enemies”, like the rest of the record, smoulders like a slow burning fire. It never boils over, though. Instead, the tension and restraint hold the songs back like an angry dog on a leash. While her voice is sugary sweet, her lyrics and delivery can be as tart as lemons (see “Somebody”). She’s the consumate collaborator, inviting rapper Shad to sing with her on the album’s superb closing track “Waiting Game”, pulling members of Wintersleep and Mother Mother into the studio to play with her, giving them the freedom to explore corridors in her songs she may not have otherwise gone down.
There’s a subtlety to Hannah Georgas that I find attractive. It’s not bombastic or in-your-face, but it will get in your head, under your skin, and into your soul if you let it. I highly suggest you drop your guard and surrender.
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