As each album is released Iamamiwhoami, led by Joanna Lee, has slowly unveiled her electronica infused audio-visual project and collected avid fans around the globe. With her latest album “Blue”, things have taken a turn to the masses. A more accessible sound, something more uplifting and a collage of beautiful sounds have combined to make this a tour de force but in a different way than before.
Opening with “Fountain” we are given the soundscape of grizzly bass lines, heavily reverbed drums and tons of little twists and inflections of various other synths. It’s these little twists and turns that for me elevate the entire album above the usual pop music this could have devolved to. Lee’s voice is still as unique as ever. You can’t quite always make out every word because of the production and the way she pushes her accent to land words in weird and wonderful ways. It doesn’t detract from the experience though – it enhances the mystery which shrouds this track with its slow winding down feel. “Hunting For Pearls” is one of my favourites as it maintains a darker chord structure and some amazing synth work in the outro. The chorus is very catchy and the beat really rumbles on throughout. “Vista” works on the previous strengths for a mid tempo 80’s synth based track with lots of tom drums. It’s at this point you realise that the palette of the album is very set in stone. Unlike other albums where things switch and change-up, for Blue, almost every track has the same instrumentation. This makes a more cohesive album on one hand, but also can lead to fatigue on the other – where you sit will ultimately decide on where you place this in your top Iamamiwhoami albums list.
“Tap Your Glass” is one track that does change it up a beat. A thumping beat and a ton of tuned percussion give a Caribbean holiday vibe over the decidedly Nordic synth background. The merger really works and lets Joanna’s sexy voice really work the verses before her usual ethereal voice takes over the choruses. “Blue Blue” reminds me of Utada Hikaru – possibly because of the song a similar name and vibe. It’s quite a melancholy track for such a push and pulse that’s behind the trance arrangement. “Thin” then plays with time signatures and tempo changes. It’s full of huge booming bass splashes and it feels like you are in a submersible tub. It’s particularly impressive as it sounds like she is singing “ship goes down” in a really disjointed siren-like way. The whole track is eerie and beautiful in equal measure and was a fast grower for me.
“Chasing Kites” is a standout as a potential single. It’s melodies are infectious with an air of mystery and intrigue, the synths are suitably mid 80’s in feel yet very today in production terms and the chorus is euphoric. “Ripple” is a hypnotic blend of rotating bass lines, thick beats and weird tinkly synths that spin and spin around slightly off beat. The combination makes the shortest track on the album somewhat of a party track for the album. “The Last Dancer” is the quiet track of the album that broods and rarely expresses itself in full before “Shadowshow” ends in a darker mood that shows Joanna can still rock the dark feels with a witchy and magical track that harks back to older themes and times.
“Blue” is a fantastic album that takes Nordic synth pop and art – merges it altogether with a strange personality. When watched with the music videos for each, you can more insight into the whole project as a whole, although the videos didn’t feel quite as connected this time round (or as interesting). However, the music stands up on its own and although it’s a different mood, it still works wonders on my ears.