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Soap&Skin – “Narrow” Review

Soap&Skin’s debut album was an absolute corker and one of my favourite album obscura’s as I like to call them. Returning with an eight track album entitled “Narrow”, Anja’s music still holds the same scary drama as before but is fuller than before.

“Vater” the opener starts of as a simple, by Soap&Skin’s standards piano and vocal track that then flips into some angry and harsh electronic percussive explosion towards the end. The track, as the rest of the album feels like, is almost so lethargic and deconstucted, everything feels like it’s beautifully falling apart. “Voyage Voyage” has some beautiful string arrangements while Anja’s vocal’s lament over lots of minor chords. Again, darkly intimate.

“Deathmental” is like a sibling to DDMMYYY and the wholly electronic side of Anja’s music with beeps, beats and lots of chewed up vocals being spat out like an angry elf on a rampage. “Cradlesong” is the quiet track that along with “Wonder” feel like they belong side by side. The latter is especially emotive with its softly hushed vocal layering over rolling arpeggios and underplayed bass piano notes. It’s perfectly pitched to make you feel melancholic and introspective.

“Lost” is a very short track which to me feels strangely like a hymn or a Anja’s Christmas Carol! “Boat Turns Towards the Port” takes some of the electronica side and merges it fully for the first time really into a usual song structure instead of making it a stand alone set piece. The result is a powerful song that showcases everything Soap&Skin stands for with aplomb. The closer “Big Hand Nails Down” is a darker tone than the previous entry but seems to be setting us up for where Anja is heading with the merging of the two sounds – reminding me of a more dramatic and aggressive Zola Jesus.

Narrow is a fantastic album. If I had to complain, it’s too short – but that’s a testament to how fantastic the material is and how much I’m left yearning for more.

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