Julien Baker
Turn Out The Lights


4.0
excellent

Review

by ian b. USER (42 Reviews)
October 28th, 2017 | 69 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: it’s up to me now.

Julien Baker has been quite the burning phenomenon in today’s modern folk (as well as emo) scene, which she initially established herself in as a newcomer with 2015’s ethereal introspection, Sprained Ankle. With cuts like “Go Home” and “Something”, she established not only intense lyrical depth, but also intricately heart-tugging instrumentals. As beautifully sound and creatively honed in as she displayed herself, it still seemed like there was something missing. Maybe it was more varied structuring, more influences, maybe instrumental variation (as Sprained Ankle only featured guitars and piano), but I couldn’t put my finger on it; nobody seemed to be able to. But, it was within the first notes of Turn Out The Lights that I realized; she needed hope.

The guitars glimmer more than they used to, the pianos linger at the forefront, the vocals carry, and the songwriting most importantly displays maturity, resulting in bountiful beacons of heart and hope that Julien needed to not only grow as an artist, but as a musician. Songs like lead single “Appointments” and “Happy To Be Here” paint more colors on the canvas of Turn Out The Lights than the somewhat expected (never in a negative connotation) neutrals and fades that have already been running rampant in Julien’s style, which is always refreshing to hear. The production is simmering and as clear as ever, giving the instrumentation so much room to prosper, even if it may be at the cost of the more DIY execution on Sprained Ankle. But, the beautiful thing about Turn Out The Lights is that it’s not Sprained Ankle by any means.

There is definitely a change and a set of noticeable influences this time around, which strangely enough gives Julien even more of an identity. Ironically, I hear the same consistent elegance on here that I did on Interpol’s Turn On The Bright Lights, where a lot of the guitar-work and especially bass guitar lines seep inspiration from songs like “Untitled” and “NYC” off of TOTBL in their brazen glory. The variation in overall instrumentation and scope from the immediately tear-inducing strings of the opening track, to the various guitar tones that appear all throughout the record -- it’s clear there’s a lot more to dig into this time around, and I’m sure the same slow burn that Sprained Ankle possessed will reveal itself in Turn Out The Lights as well.

The songwriting dynamics also has increased in detail, with Julien’s diction improving humbly. I legitimately had to pull out a dictionary at points during my first listen, which is far from a bad thing; in fact, it’s quite refreshing. The topics she goes through have also jumped around from just self reflection after self reflection and so forth, where the water she seemed to be staring into with Sprained Ankle could have mudded itself after a while. Songs like “Hurt Less” tackle self preservation, which seems like it would be a load of broken glass on a race track on anything other than Turn Out The Lights, but that only reaffirms the maturity and shell-breaking that lies within every aspect of this record. There are standout lines all over this thing, like no other record I’ve ever seen, with almost every track having a line that clings to my gray matter, such as: ”the harder I swim, the faster I sink” or a line like ”If I could do what I want, I'd become an electrician. I'd climb inside my ears, and I'd rearrange the wires in my brain” from “Sour Breath” and “Happy To Be Here” respectively. The songwriting still has some room to grow, as there are some topics that seem like they could be redundant with repeated listens, but with Julien’s cathartic and tenfold improved vocal performances to back the writing here, it’s almost hard to imagine that.

The maturity and hope that was lingering in the background and almost biting in songs on Sprained Ankle has been revisited and presented in color, with the endless marching forward that seems to be represented by Turn Out The Lights. The voice Julien Baker represents is less about her, like it was on Sprained Ankle, and it plays out more as a voice for those stagnant and sinking. With the triumphantly firmamental instrumentation, and thatvoice, which bleeds that senseless mustering for what it takes to move forward that we all know too well, it’s not hard to see why Julien has managed to become the indie-folk darling she has become recently and will continue to mesmerize as. It’s because, with an album like Turn Out The Lights, she now shows us something on full display -- something that everybody else strives for but can’t seem to yield no matter how hard they try; hope.



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user ratings (561)
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
ianblxdsoe
October 28th 2017


1921 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hey dudes!! been super excited for this since i heard she started playing new songs live, and i’m sooooo glad it’s out. probably gonna grow to a 5 over time to be honest. also as you see it’s been quite a bit (by my standards) since my last review so i may seem a little bit rusty, please if you have any constructive criticism or anything lemme know i don’t bite just cry 😎 thanks jack a shitton for cleaning it up quite a bit

Snake.
October 28th 2017


25235 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

bledsoe wyd

ramon.
October 28th 2017


4181 Comments


whoah man whoah

dimsim3478
October 28th 2017


8987 Comments


havent properly gotten into JB yet cuz whenever i put on her music its too sad for me to comfortably listen to it. been meaning to sit down and stick it out thru sprained ankle tho

luci
October 28th 2017


12844 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

How is she a slow burning phenomenon when she debuted in 2015 and is now already the most hyped indie newcomer? Slow burning is for artists who steadily gain acclaim over a number of releases, not her career trajectory at all.

verdant
Emeritus
October 28th 2017


2492 Comments


^^^dunno why you ignored that suggestion of mine ian, but love u and this regardless

ianblxdsoe
October 28th 2017


1921 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

i meant slow burning as in when sprained ankle came out, no one really checked it until after, like i noticed i mean for me personally she picked it up way more traction this year than last year or any other time before it if that makes sense, that’s what i meant by it. plus also i didn’t necessarily know what to change it to. anyways it’s 5am i’m going back 2 bed thanks guys for the nice words

ianblxdsoe
October 28th 2017


1921 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

there i changed it kinda if that helps

luci
October 28th 2017


12844 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

In that case you could say Sprained Ankle is the slow burning phenomenon. I agree that it took time to spread by word-of-mouth which is quite unlike most debuts that come out (typically are hit or miss from the start).

JamieTwort
October 28th 2017


26988 Comments


This slow burning hype you speak of was mainly a thing on Sput after some regular users started slapping 5's on Sprained Ankle a while after it came out and then began repping it constantly.

luci
October 28th 2017


12844 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I've seen the hype build for her all over the internet, not limited to just Sputnik.

JamieTwort
October 28th 2017


26988 Comments


I haven't seen hype to this extent outside Sput.

dimsim3478
October 28th 2017


8987 Comments


from my perspective JB got pretty big pretty quickly. i jammed it right when it came out cuz i think like emo bands were reppin it (cameron boucher probably) and i dug the cover. then i started seein her everywhere like npr tiny desk and audiotree and like big festivals and all this crazy shit within the year sprained ankle came out. not hard to see (hear) why cuz her music is fuckin arresting from the instant you here it.

Conmaniac
October 28th 2017


27676 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

oh hey ian, much love figured id see ya review this (:

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
October 28th 2017


26031 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

keep em coming bois

DarkSideOfLucca
October 28th 2017


17521 Comments


I keep thinking this says Justin Bieber

ianblxdsoe
October 28th 2017


1921 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

love u con thanks for reading as always!!

upintheair
October 28th 2017


457 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Amazing record. She outdid herself again.

ianblxdsoe
October 28th 2017


1921 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

so glad everyone is pretty much collectively digging this to an extent

Conmaniac
October 29th 2017


27676 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Jamie is right, and that hype is mostly of my doing hahah. glad that she's huge on sput at least (:



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