“It is 7 A.M. at night.”
This, as we know, is an impossible phenomenon. This string of seemingly nonsensical words proposes a concept that is not a product of foolishness but rather of genius; they’re unhesitatingly oxymoronic, clashing willingly, knowingly, and are presented with an attention-grabbing firmness, an unwrinkled staccato, repeatedly. Miraculously, these lyrics manage to put into words how it feels to listen to Brooklyn-based artist SHIRA’s new album, Subtle Creature.
Like these lyrics, which are snagged from the album’s ninth track, “I Know Your I,” the self-defined electro-soul artist manages to obliterate categorical boundaries, potentially even the basic laws of gravity (as we know them) within a musical realm, throughout the 45-minute, spectacular mystery that is Subtle Creature. The album is ever-changing, intoxicated with experimentation. The opening track, “Literally Dead,” flourishes and grounds listeners with SHIRA’s demanding vocals atop an aggressive guitar that exhibits her raw, visceral talent. And though it would be reasonable to assume that the rest of the album would follow a somewhat similar suit, that assumption couldn’t be further from reality. The following track, “Heartbeat is a Prisoner,” is a standout that harmoniously blends SHIRA’s otherworldly warbling with hip-hop vibes, layered atop electronic beats; and the third track, “Harsh Your Mellow,” teeters along that same indefinable genre line.
Then, just when you think you have the album figured out, SHIRA throws in fresh instrumentation and stylization in the album’s title track that feels so immersive, it’s almost alienating. It’s as if each tempo change is isolating you, but despite isolation, you’re being taken care of, cradled, even, by the mashup of the divine and the mundane.
The overall vibe of the album is haunting, perhaps intimidatingly poetic, and inarguably unique. Its eccentric qualities can leave you feeling hallowed yet fulfilled, melancholy yet whimsical. I can’t promise how the album will make you feel, as it seems like an individualized experience for everyone (I, personally, find myself dancing interpretively in my underwear for a lot of it), but I can assure you: you have not listened to something like Subtle Creature before, and for music-lovers and experimental art-lovers alike, it is a must-listen.
Image courtesy of SHIRA
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An excessively queer Aquarius with a LOT of opinions. Things I'm passionate about include, but are not limited to: writing (duh), my pet bunnies/animals in general, LGBTQIA+ issues, Sleater-Kinney, massive helpings of spaghetti, RuPaul's Drag Race, tacky horror movies, never shutting up about astrology/how gay I am, et cetera.
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