Let me begin with admitting one slight, albeit rather significant, bias. I rarely, if ever, regularly listen to music like this. Consequently, I will be forced to sail the seas of criticism relatively blind, a rather disconcerting realization. Should I be comparing Mozart’s Sister to her pop equivalents like Lorde or something more independent like Grimes or Sky Ferreira? All artists I admittedly rarely ever listen to. Perhaps it is comparable to someone like Madonna and other artists from the 80s? Do people even associate synth- pop with the 80’s anymore, or am I just a dinosaur born before 1990?
These lingering questions aside and ignoring this minor bias (the small detail that I am in no way qualified to review this genre of album) allow me to now ruin whatever little credibility I may have as a writer or critic. After all, I told Ming that I would do this. So let’s try to begin with some of the positives!
As far as a debut album would go, there certainly are enjoyable moments. When Mozart’s Sister is less concerned with matching up with her brothers and sisters (see what I did there?) her creativity and knack for production shines through. The first track, Good Thing Bad Thing, seems to me a perfect example of an artist following her creative intuitions. An avid listener will be rewarded with minor details such as the subtle shifts of rhythm when the first lines are sung, or the Prince-esque harmonies over a simple beat which carry the song from bridge to chorus. If this song can be performed live audiences will be in for a treat.
A Move is another highlight upon first listen. At first I had considered writing that, ‘the song explores a deep vulnerability within the soul of the artist, pushing the creative dimensions of a pop song to unbeknownst extremes’ but writing that sort of made me vomit a little and I decided that I couldn’t in good conscience actually write that (about anything, ever). Hyperbole aside, it is a good song which evokes comparison to recent St. Vincent efforts, building from pulsing dream –like synths into an aggressive electronic finale. Several Depeche Mode references find their way onto the album as well as occasional nods to hip-hop phrasings most notably in the song Bow A Kiss, which for me was the highlight of the album.
However, what is unclear for Mozart’s Sister is where she intends on fitting into the glut of artists currently occupying the solo synth-pop artists’ niche pioneered years before her. As strong as the album seems in places, and it definitely does have some excellent moments, it runs stale after a while, a definite telltale sign of inexperience showing through. For example, the first single, Enjoy, comes off as an overly eager contribution to the trite overproduced genre of EDM that has nestled itself to the intestines of popular music this year. The samples are sporadic and intrusive and I can only assume someone mistook it for Lorde’s Tennis Court and decided it should be a first single. However, it really only draws comparison to that already irritating song in the same way peanut butter thrown into a blender without a cover and shot all over the wall resembles a peanut butter sandwich. Other moments like Lone Wolf, which apparently is a fan favourite, left me slightly disinterested but that may be a testament to my poor taste.
There is talent here and perhaps this is the most that Mozart’s Sister could hope to accomplish with a debut album. As long as her growth allows her to pursue the more interesting moments on this album, she should be able to make a name for herself touring this material live. I wish I could have commented more on the lyrics, but most of the vocals are lost in the mix and I wasn’t paid so I am not about to forensically search for them. However, that is understandable for a new talent, one who I hope is given the space to find her voice.