Review Summary: A folk beating heart protected by unquenchable fires.Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin
is a sensual overload. It’s an exuberant collection of glitched pop tunes sprayed with a myriad of arrangements and production sensibilities to mask what really is Alexandra Drewchin’s fifth long play: her most vulnerable record up to date.
Eartheater is not a singer songwriter in the classical sense of the tag. Her brand of folk is too daring, too strange, to fit into the mold of the genre. The track that opens her latest release, “Airborne Ashes” may deceive you into thinking Drewchin has finally lay down her guard and opened up to let you into the deepest corners of her labyrinthic art with an easy to follow tune, rich in melody and stark in experimentation. What follows next though, is not for the fainted heart, and the chorus of “Below the Clavicle” will be the first baptism of fire for many.
Drewchin excels in crafting textures whose aural touch might feel too rough for those unfamiliar with artists like Pharmakon or Gazelle Twin, but that are way gentler than the sonic hell the aforementioned sound alchemists put you through. Eartheater may look and sound harsher than what really is, which is no surprise when looking at a succubus absorbing sparks through her rectum, but in its core, Phoenix...
is a record of sensible acoustics, protected by playful demons of noise and seemingly unsurmountable interludes.
“How to Fight” and “Volcano” are two good representations of what lies at the core of Eartheater. One led by a simple guitar strumming and beautiful vocal harmonies and the other reflecting Vespertine-era Björk with reverberated harp staccatos and spacious piano notes elevating Drewchin’s potent singing in the forefront. “Fantasy Collision” is another hidden gem, hypnotic and slightly reminiscent of the heartfelt but unbroken singing of Jenny Hval.
The last section of Phoenix...
is not short of surprises. The corrupted choral of “Mercurial Nerve” leads into an ear cleansing interlude before another lo-fi arpeggiated little track called “Bringing Me Back” takes the listener through some sort of 60s psychedelic folk dream that culminates with two more cuts of the same blood in full splendor, signing off Eartheater’s latest work with an abundant last load of harmonies and allegorical chants.
With Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin
, Alexandra Drewchin strikes a perfect balance between the queer pop of her early works and the rich songwriting she’s been cultivating through the years, and it all flows graciously into her latest work as lava melting an iceberg. If an album could express her polychromatic art with elegance and precision, it would undoubtedly be this one.