Holter’s previous two releases, ‘Tragedy’ in 2011 and ‘Ekstasis’ in 2012, were steeped in a dreamy, ambient, misty sound that I personally found difficult to penetrate. ‘Loud City Loud’ has that dreamy ambience, but piercing it is an immediate flurry of chaotic ringing horns, crisp percussion and (thankfully) enough of Holter’s exquisite voice.
The album can quickly, and almost seamlessly drift from the delicate and faint in ballads like ‘World’, to the turbulent and bold in ‘Horns Surround Me’. It has a fragile beauty but it also has a confident grit. Holter has mastered her own sound and is assured enough to toy with the avant-garde in ‘Maxims II’ in a way that works brilliantly. The reverberating chaos of some of the songs take absolutely nothing away from the strong sense of sentiment and powerful emotion throughout, which peaks marvellously in the poignant ‘He’s Running Through My Eyes’. But the great thing about this album is that it doesn’t stay still for long; after a little bit of tragic self-indulgence, we are plunged into ‘This Is a True Heart’; a fun, bouncing, and initially optimistic song that urges us to “come on” and “walk another walk”.
In ‘Loud City Loud’, Julia Holter has produced one of the most imaginative and explorative records in ages. Like ‘Psychic’ by Darkside, it’s an album that might require a little bit of patience, and it’s probably better received when listened to from start to finish. So get a brew on and get started. Oh, and don’t miss her when she comes to Liverpool next month at Leaf – 15th November.