Review Summary: Lucid dreaming.
Comparisons between My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden and St. Vincent’s Annie Clark frequently arise for two main reasons. The first is that both artists are runaway multi-instrumentalists who launched their characters off the backs of Sufjan Steven’s touring band. The second is that both are arguably the biggest indie art-pop queens this side of Björk. Of course, the first fact makes total sense just by listening to either artist. The experience of working with Sufjan was always bound to imprint certain eccentricities and tendencies for elevated pop compositions, but I don’t think anyone expected the two artists to expand Sufjan’s tried and true method to such great heights. My Brightest Diamond’s latest work None More Than You
is just further proof that her background was entirely essential.
Opening track “Dreaming Awake (Son Lux mix)” swells from the start with Worden’s crooning voice. Her high falsetto balances expertly on mirroring synth notes before descending down into driving hip-hop beats. Son Lux’s layering of rapid, crunching electronic pulses through the track on top of lush orchestral soundscapes. It’s a perfect collaboration when you think about it. Son Lux’s ambitious compositions have always complemented his modest voice, riding on the power of his expansive instruments, and Worden’s voice only accentuates the effectiveness of this dichotomy.
“Whoever You Are” shares the closest resemblance to St. Vincent’s latest self-titled LP. It flutters and operates at a faster pace than her typical tracks, and its tone matches the upbeat synth driven form of Ms. Clark. The dream theme continues on “Dreams Don’t Look Like,” which begins with the slightly trite line “dreams don’t look like how they look in sleep,” but it’s undeniably pleasant, resembling the melody of The Beatles’ “Across the Universe” at times, and at other times the smoothness of a Nick Drake track.
“Dreaming Awake” is revisited with a Mason Jar mix and it provides a nearly equal punch to Son Lux’s. It begins stripped down before expanding upwards into a horn and choir finish that propels Wordan’s stellar vocals skyward once again. The EP wraps up with the shortest and most meditative track, “That Point When.” It floats along with Wordan arguing, “it’s never too late” to have echoed back “it’s too late.” The track bounces back and forth in her questions until the track abruptly ends with “that point when…”
What is so enticing about My Brightest Diamond’s EP is its richness. With her fourth LP, This is My Hand
, arriving in a few months it would appear this EP is an intended prequel, yet the five songs feel unusually complete. If it truly is an introduction then I can only imagine the ambition and scale of This is My Hand
. Or, perhaps None More Than You
will be her standout work of 2014. Either way, she’s delivered a fantastic piece of music that rivals her best work.