Julien Baker
Turn Out The Lights


4.5
superb

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
December 23rd, 2017 | 63 replies


Release Date: 2017 | Tracklist

Review Summary: New glow, same touch

Turn Out the Lights, while not quite reaching the heights of the brilliant Sprained Ankle, is the most logical progression one could expect from Julien Baker. It takes the sparse arrangements and raw beauty of the debut makes it all more expansive, adding some extra instruments and more intense climaxes. While the understated piano intro “Over” wallows in its (admittedly effective) melancholy, “Appointments” immediately unrolls the new stylistic traits of Turn Out the Lights as if Baker has always been waiting for this very moment to strike the listener so hard. After a succession of quiet piano/guitar verses, the final minute or so is possibly the strongest showing of her vocal abilities so far (even more than Rejoice). The instruments get louder and warmer, as Baker’s belting sounds more like a wonderful exorcism than merely a performance.

One could argue that Turn Out the Lights is basically a musical exorcism in general, really. Whereas Sprained Ankle was more of a lament of Baker’s shortcomings and deeply flawed history, this record takes a decidedly warmer and more acknowledging tone toward similar subjects. And much of that comes from those “new stylistic traits” I mentioned before. To elaborate on that, what I mean is that the minimalism and starkness aren’t really out in full force like they were on Baker’s debut. There’s more piano playing, more soft/loud dynamic shifts, more vocal variety, and more variation in atmosphere. While there’s still an undeniable darkness lurking about Turn Out the Lights, songs like “Shadowboxing” and “Happy to Be Here” display the singer-songwriter’s willingness to face herself head-on, the latter being a particularly potent look at her struggles with drug addiction and therapy. Then there’s the phenomenal level of contrast on “Sour Breath,” in which Baker keeps singing “the harder I swim, the faster I sink” over gradually louder and more triumphant instruments in the background. And what’s incredible is that, no matter how much she tries new things with her style, her signature style is still here. The wispy guitar tone that’s washed in reverb, the smooth-yet-flawed vocal performances, and the lack of any percussion whatsoever are still traits of Turn Out the Lights just as they were with Sprained Ankle. In fact, we have a few songs that could be seen as continuations of past songs, such as the similarities between “Televangelist” and Sprained Ankle’s “Go Home.” Both are piano-centric numbers that are steeped in religious imagery and themes of reverence, still taking different lyrical approaches but with similar concepts. Honestly, that’s the best way I can describe the entirety of Turn Out the Lights. If Sprained Ankle was the sound of someone falling into a pit of melancholy and desperation, Turn Out the Lights is the sound of the same person crawling out of the pit and seeking recovery. The first one might be more interesting, but don’t you also want to hear how the person made it through?



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user ratings (562)
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

hey everyone

budgie
December 23rd 2017


35032 Comments


thank god this album got a fifth review i was getting worried

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

It was simply essential! lol

AsleepInTheBack
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2017


10032 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Contender for most unrelentingly loved record of 2017? Great write-up.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks man! Yeah, much like Sprained Ankle, the praise is pretty damn overwhelming

BlushfulHippocrene
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2017


4052 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Lovely review, mate. I think Go Home works best in contrast to Claws in Your Back, but the religious focus (and piano balladry, obviously) of Televangelist definitely works well. Curious as to what you'd consider your favourite tracks?

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks dude! I'd probably go with Appointments, Shadowboxing, Sour Breath, and Claws in Your Back as my personal favorites, but the whole thing is amazing honestly

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2017


26053 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Mostly skimmed this but I absolutely love your word choice dude (:

Desdinova
December 23rd 2017


632 Comments


she sing very well I agree with the style here

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Neek!

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"she sing very well I agree with the style here"



agreed

neekafat
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2017


26053 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Hasan 2: Sputnik Bugaloo

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 23rd 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

AS MUCH MONEY AS I CAN

granitenotebook
Staff Reviewer
December 25th 2017


1271 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

good review!

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 25th 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks, I appreciate it!

Desdinova
December 25th 2017


632 Comments


how can i get promote to write review? i want to write on Metallica album of your choice

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 25th 2017


70239 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

"Contender for most unrelentingly loved record of 2017?"



either that or "most unrelentingly over-rated" depending on your perspective

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 25th 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Lol, I can see why someone would say that

Lord(e)Po)))ts
December 25th 2017


70239 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

i respect that you can see the counter-perspective !

Koris
Staff Reviewer
December 26th 2017


21105 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

For sure. I do love this album, but I also fear that Julien is becoming too much of a one-trick pony. Sure, there are some changes here and there from Sprained Ankle, but I hope she evolves a bit more with the next one



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