One of the more unusual and somewhat unorthodox debut’s to come in 2017 will be Thelma. Her brand of rock has an unhinged quality to it. One minute you’re being rocked to sleep in a St Vincent like lullaby and then she’s squealing like Kate Bush has found her next decade hibernation spot!
Opener “If You Let It” sets the tone. Waltzing and time signature changing rock that has a cabaret edge to its discord – it’s strangely bewitching and enticing. On the surface, it feels like a standard rock tune but then all the instrumentation and vocals slide off into weird tangents like when a you notice somethings going creepy in a psychological horror movie. Guitar is the central instrument in Thelma’s arsenal as she switches between cute ethereal moments in “White Couches” to dark riffs and minor chords in its harsher segments. Another tool in her pocket is playing instrument speeds off against each other and in this track it works really well to create an all too fast slow motion effect. When things are quiet like “Moxie” though, Thelma keeps the tension and emotion on high heat with some great vocal range displays and building surges of rock that emerge like stars in a dark sky.
“Peach” is like Joanna Newsom and St Vincent had a love child. It’s that good and the production choices, which run throughout the album but especially for this track, really create a haunting and confused web of deceit in your ears. It’s a fantastic track that’s so anti-single yet I completely get why it was chosen to represent Thelma’s weird and wonderful ways. “Spool” plays with echo and reverse sound over tight riffs whilst drums and voice go off on their own march. It’s a fits and starts track that seems to avoid any pattern where possible and is the complete opposite of “Haha” which relies on a repeated pattern and riff that slowly disintegrates into something more angry and sinister – out of control in places. It’s almost entirely without words despite Thelma’s voice being the driving force and is an art rock piece. That leaves the closing track “Thelma” where she seems to talk about herself as a different person. The album’s lyrics deal with problems of projection and perception and it’s an interesting take to talk about at least a side of herself as an entire self titled track (and album).
Unusual, awkward, stitchcrafted and given a whole lot of love and thought, Thelma’s first full release borders art-rock at times but is all the better for it. It’s a rich palette of sounds, emotions and song structures. Some are more immediate than others, but all have layers of depth to be discovered and get lost in if you give it the time of day.
Recommended Track : Peach