An artist who seamlessly infuses lyrical influences from Waits, Cohen and Nina Simone into dark, ethereal soundscapes akin to those of Andy Scott, Burial and Autechre, Starleen and her producer, Zachary Holmes have delivered one of the most engaging art-pop albums of the year.
After meeting in high school while studying music theory, Starleen and Zach have been an inseparable creative force, pushing the boundaries of modern pop with releases like ‘Life is Strange’ in 2020. Art-pop at its more impressive, the EP laid the foundation for the new album perfectly. Recorded and produced at home, with the aim to make the kind of music they enjoyed and to make an artistic impact, ‘To Give In’ is an evocative experimentation into modern song structures, production style and lyrics.
Built on seven cinematic singles that explore what it means to be human, the album is a gorgeous cascade of pulsating beats drenched in brooding, reverb-heavy basslines and Starleen’s glassy, moody vocals that drift atop the dark indietronica rhythms. It’s a brilliant and often disarming sound, creating new sonically driven soundscapes on songs like ‘Out of alongside the more meditative, disquiet of closing number ‘From Myself’.
Speaking about the project, Starleen explained, “With this project, I knew I wanted to create a dark world. The message I try to convey is that in life, we have choices. Although going back may be tempting, we have to move forward. People and their strength to overcome life's battles always has been an inspiration to me. Lyrically I have always gravitated towards artists like Nina Simone, Tom Waits, and Leonard Cohen, mostly because they talk about what it truly means to be human. And that's something I try to bring in my music.”
Breaking the mould in all the best ways, Starleen’s new album is perfectly paired with cathartically dark soundscapes and her willingness to encapsulate the most harrowing parts of our lives. Deeply honest and undeniably expressive, it’s art-pop at its most raw and inspired.
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