Review Summary: You may not need a cure m'lady, but we did, so thank you.
Quitting feels great. You know what I mean, that instant relief you feel when you suplex your responsibilities from the top ropes towards outside the ring and the crowd inside your head roars and cheers for that newfound resolve and the decisions it poisons you with. I very much doubt Aurora, one of the busiest bees of the Norwegian Music and Arts spheres has ever considered quitting. After all, her career has been a non-stop express train since she was signed to Decca and Petroleum Records in 2014. You may have not heard the echoes of success of "Runaway" if you live anywhere outside Europe, but she did ring the bell with that one and charted in several European countries with her debut All My Demons Greet Me As A Friend
The Gods We Can Touch
is her third album, after releasing a long piece of music in 2019 which was split into two very generous EPs. The jump in quality from her debut to these two EPs was significant. Aurora began expanding her sound with critical emphasis on percussive elements and artists like Florence & The Machine and Björk becoming surfacing influences. In her latest record, if we were to see it on graphic form, I'd dare to say that the level of Florenceness
has diminished dramatically. Her place has been taken by the whimsical magic of the musical worlds created by singer songwriter Agnes Obel at times, while any comparison with the Icelandic diva can be reduced to her use of certain background elements and nothing else. This third record is the most "Aurora" record. It oozes with confidence and it just feels more unique than any of her past works.
I won't lie though, I firmly believe that The Gods We Can Touch
is essentially carried by two songs: "Cure for Me" and "The Innocent", each of one them leading the charge in their respective sides. Call it a hunch, call it a lie, but while the rest of the album is an improvement in every detail that was missing in her previous records, these two songs are simply astonishing, ladies and gentlemen. These couple of tunes are simply irresistible, terrific, impossibly charming, and that is because they show how much her melody weaving and beat making has improved over the years, turning whatever was predictable before into a surprising splash of refreshing sounds and enthralling choruses. Of these two tracks, one got to be a single, the other unfortunately not, but songs like "Heathens", which was one of the last cuts unveiled before the album release and "Exist for Love", a sweet little love song released as far as in 2020 surely helped to pave the way for Aurora's third full length.
Honestly, there's a lot to unpack on this album, a whirlwind of styles and arrangements that feel quite overwhelming the first time you traverse through the fifteen tracks included on the record. The two songs quoted above are wisely placed as beacons and they stand out as soon as the chorus grabs you by the neck and you are suddenly part of a street musical, but there are several other moments that highlight Aurora's growth on The Gods We Can Touch
: "Giving in To the Love", "A Temporary High", "A Dangerous Thing" and "Blood in the Wine" won't let the flames of her blazing pop go extinct, while opener "Everything Matters", "Exhale Inhale", "This Could be a Dream" or the aforementioned "Exist For Love" fulfill their role as little breathers, focusing on soothing atmospheres and slower tempos.
The Gods We Can Touch
feels like a very round pop record, a little bit of everything for everyone, and it's been smartly complemented by great visuals (the video for "Cure for Me" is mesmerizing) and an impeccable production job by Magnus Skylstad, who doubles down as a drummer in her live performances, and multi-instrumentalist and producer Matias Tellez. Definitely a strong contender for one of the most interesting pop albums of the year, but the road to December is long and full of albums, although I’d be surprised if my head is still not shaking from side to side while shouting “I don’t need it!” when the snows of the next winter start to fall. Time will tell!