Julie McLarnon's debut full-length befits her Bridget Storm persona. Ms. Storm's hushed girlish whisper presides over these elegantly constructed arrangements like a coastal depression. Loping along with understated majesty, her music recalls the hypnotic melancholia of Tindersticks, richly embellished with cellos and violins in broad brushstrokes. McLarnon, a native of Manchester, England, got her start in music working for famed producer Martin Hannett (New Order, Happy Mondays, Joy Division) at age 16. She learned her lessons well, judging from the album's exquisite sound. Gentle yet seductive, McLarnon's voice entices the listener like a femme fatale enveloped in an air of pendulous drones and haunting tones. On "Conditioning," she repeatedly murmurs, "Wishing it all away/You just want to be Hey hey I'm okay,'" while beneath the Moog peels and driving bass, background creaks and groans can be heard as though her world were being shaken by blustery winds of change. "Losing It" is a warm lullaby of rural British folk, keyed to a bracing violin and McLarnon cooing, "What are you going to do about this?"
Everything here feels painstakingly rendered, from the fragile music-box version of Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" ("Quaalude Interlude") to the swirling turbines of guitar noise that elevate "Terrestrial Living" over its elastic bass line. A terrific young talent, McLarnon has created a quintessential bad-weather album, a shadowy firmament of black clouds, whining wind and candle-lit hostages swaddled in blankets, waiting out the storm.
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