My Brightest Diamond - A Million and One

My Brightest Diamond
A Million and One

In 2014 Detroit Native Shara Nova took her classically trained vocals and blended them into a more electronic sound. It was a departure for the artist and she's done so yet again. A Million and One takes the electronics up a level and amplifies the experimentation. You get flashes of minimal techno, dance bangers and dark electronica throughout the album. You can equate her with artists like Purity Ring and Goldfrap with a twinge of Florence Welch for good measure. There are times where she finds transcendentally pretty moments like the vocal runs coupled with swelling synths on "Another Chance", yet there always seems to be something holding her back. Their is a restraint on this album that makes it feel penned in and unable to shift. The songs start to sound kind of similar and become this distant electronic buzz. Nothing shatters this feeling or breaks through and instead the dark drone continues throughout. It's not necessarily a bad thing but it prevents the album from fully blooming into something incredibly wild and diverse. "You Wanna See My Teeth" is a great example of this; there is a cutting guitar riff, effected vocals and a sparse production that just begs to explode into something monumental but the opportunity goes unused. The pounding drums of the song which are truly incredible fade out and it sort of drifts off in to space. There are many times like this where Nova has the chance to do something really incredible, all the pieces are there, but the opportunities sail by.

"Sway" similarly is so good at building tension but then so bad at capitalizing on it. There is an ease with the music that Nova makes that is possibly the most frustrating part. There is so much promise in her music but it never delivers the way you want it too. She has worked with super talented people like David Bryne, Sufjan Stevens and others but her own music doesn't breakthrough like theirs. It is not that she is "too" experimental, she isn't really, it's that she doesn't let go and allow the music to take flight. The songs feel manipulated and contained. A Million and One exists in this odd space where it doesn't fully engage, just sort of aggressively idles. "Supernova" again has that promising intro but the "drop" is a kind of disappointing and jumbled mess. The album closes with "Mother" and "White Noise" the first a sort of uneventful drag and the last lives up to it's namesake. There are so many special moments on this record but it also never becomes a cohesive unit. It's really disappointing for a record with so many promising moments to feel so empty at the end. We'll just have to wait for the next one.

6.0 out of 10


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