New Zealand songwriter Aldous Harding’s sophomore album “Party” is punchier and even more haunting than her more folk-influenced debut.
While London-based synth-pop musician Hannah Rodgers, a.k.a. Pixx, is known for her ethereal electro sound, on her sophomore album, Small Mercies, Rodgers tries out some rock flare. The result is Cherry Glazerr meets MGMT.
The record starts with some nostalgic, ‘80s summer vibes on “Andean Condor.” It is the dancy, synth-pop Pixx that fans know and love. Then, “Bitch” immediately shifts from synth to garage rock, guitar playfully well-paired with Rodgers’ vocals.
“Disgrace” changes the pace with an airy, synth-rock pulse that is distorted just enough to set a post-apocalyptic mood. Then, the title track picks up where the last one left off, with even more distortion. It sounds like you’re stuck inside an accelerated round of PAC-MAN.
“Mary Magdalene” is driven by a somber but pretty melody and reverberated guitar. The melody chorus — “I’m Mary Magdalene waiting to be stoned” — is surprisingly catchy for how bleak it is, followed by, “I come for warmth but you don’t come at all.”
As the album enters its final act, “Hysterical” carries on the energy of “Mary Magdalene.” The delicate harmony stands out while the guitar riff follows her vocals closely. On “Duck Out,” Pixx’s ethereal electro is at its best. The track starts off ominously and with a droning tempo as she sings, “I might have to duck out,” and is ultimately the album’s most complex song vocally and melodically. At the 45-second mark, Rodgers holds the note on “might” continuing into, “I might say it, save it for another time.” At this point, the song is light and airy, and the mood shifts once again to a buzzing tempo.
Finally, “Blowfish” closes the album on a grungy note, serving as a sweet goodbye.