- Since her breakthrough album, Tragedy, LA bedroom composer Julia Holter has tethered her music to loose thematic frameworks behind her ephemeral style of songwriting. Tragedy was a spacious take on Euripedes' Hippolytus, and last year's Ekstasis looked back to ancient Greece for inspiration as well, even as Holter moved toward an increasingly song-oriented approach that took cues from artists like Laurie Anderson and Kate Bush.
For her first album on Domino, Holter's nudged her soft sense of historical play forward, oh, about 2300 years. Loud City Song is a nod to the Gigi, the 1948 French novella, and the 1958 musical of the same. Recorded with co-producer Cole Marsden Grief-Neill, it's also Holter's first true studio effort. And while that enhanced fidelity doesn't soften the grace of her former recordings, it does round out the edges of the singer-songwriter elements that were so central to Holter's sound on Ekstasis.
Holter uses Gigi to explore the experiences of a young woman pitched against the bustle of the Big City (Gigi's was Paris, Holter's is LA). She said in an interview with Pitchfork that the album is "themed around the loudness of society: media, gossip, celebrity obsession." You can see this in small cinematic glimpses throughout the record, especially in the two centerpieces that reference Maxim's, the Parisian hangout from Gigi. And yet, as always with Holter's work, you don't have to get all of her references in order to enjoy her music. Loud City Song is her most broadly scoped and epic album to date. Each of its nine tracks reminds us that Holter's voice sometimes gets underemphasized in the sly complexities of her artistry. Here, allowed to really soar within Loud City Song's wide-screen fidelity, it's strikingly forceful and stirring, and just as commanding as her deconstructions of neo-classical songcraft.
02. Maxim's I
03. Horns Surrounding Me
04. In The Green Wild
05. Hello Stranger
06. Maxim's II
07. He's Running Through My Eyes
08. This Is A True Heart
09. City Appearing