Marissa Nadler has been perfecting her blend of ethereal beauty for years now and in this, her self-titled latest offering, there’s no massive departure from what’s been before. But that’s by no means a bad thing.
Nadler is the epitome of haunting pop folk. Her sweeping soft vocals with an east-coast American twang wrap themselves around you as your hear them. Her voice gets inside your head and can bring tears to your eyes. Songs III from 2007 is probably still her most brilliant record, with songs that are clearly the best of her career, matching the quality of her Leonard Cohen cover. But this album isn’t far behind.
The writing is spookier, while more poppy, than her last album Little Hells, and the addition of slide guitar and max reverb throughout makes for a sweet and heart-wrenching listen. Her melodies have become simpler, nodding to the sounds of Beach House, but with her vocals, sometimes cracking from their delicacy, like a ‘more normal’ Kate Bush.
Nadler dips a toe in a new direction, making her songs much more uplifting than what’s gone before, and with a subtle touch of electro minimalism, as if a fan of John Grant. ‘Baby I Will Leave You In The Morning’, with its constant key changes, southern strumming and a prolonged whirring backing that almost breaths, is mesmerising, almost pulsing with anxiety.
‘Puppet Master’ is another highlight musically, if not lyrically. Even the odd vibraphone doesn’t distract from the immense, yet childlike melody. It shows Nadler is really pushing the boat out – keeping her haunting atmosphere, but experimenting with a much bigger sound.
‘Wind Up Doll’ loses the reverb and goes for a much closer sound vocally, a bit Goldfrapp in a magic shop and most welcome, while ‘In A Magazine’ steals a catchy Nirvana melody, but is still most pleasant.
Closer ‘Daisy, Where Did You Go?’ is pure prettiness in song. Sliding and layered vocals with lush harmonies and a simple cotton-picked Crosby-esque guitar is what Nadler does best. It’s another great record and it’s about time our Marissa got some recognition.
Words: Gemma Hampson