With the rain comes Bricks of Ivanhoe, the new EP from Portland singer/songwriter Laura Hopkins, a wistful walk through the lonely house of memory. Known for her vocal work with Laura Palmer’s Death Parade and Blackwater Holylight, Hopkins has garnered a reputation for her haunting lyrics and melancholic style, which fits as well over downtempo synth pop as it does over twangy post-punk. On Bricks of Ivanhoe, her style is stripped to its core: simple guitar riffs backing barebones harmonies. It’s only her left to occupy the vacated space.
The album opens with shimmering guitar on “Living Alone,” a track which sets the tone for the rest of the album, swelling with anticipation into the general emptiness. The second song, “Apartment Divorce,” begins to contextualize that emptiness: “A last look at the shelves that you put in together/lightly covered in dust that never set there before.” The project is an examination of the ways in which people shape spaces, and are in turn shaped by them, only to leave something of themselves behind when they go. The drums first come in on “The Type,” a welcome addition from Mario Gutierrez, who, alongside Marion Lozano, make up Wavpi, the production duo handling the project. The energy swells from there into “Sugarcoat,” which finds Hopkins losing herself in the affirmation of repetition. “Still I choose love,” she sings, embracing life in spite of its pain.
To call Bricks of Ivanhoe a breakup albums seems somehow to diminish it–the project is less concerned with the relationship than with the with the contours of the break, with tracing the outlines across time and space, from the emptiness of a once-shared apartment to the strangely bright loneliness of the sky at night. The album embraces sadness but doesn’t wallow in it, taking the pain as part of an ever-changing whole, which also will pass with the time.