When bedroom rock comes to the studio.
Emilie Zoé approached her new album by gathering up old instruments that had been playing for decades or been left alone. The idea was that a 60-year-old guitar, a broken piano or a forgotten organ could tell a story with more character than a shiny new experience. After 18 months of exploration “Hello Future Me” was born.
The album doesn’t sound hugely warped, broken or at all archaic. Emilie uses catchy noodling hooks of pianos and guitars to get a rhythm or pulse under your skin and then dig deep. That might be with fuzzy riffs on a battered guitar with “Parent’s House” or tinny bossa nova drum machines and retro synths on “I Saw Everything” – the effect is the same. There is a very tiny detuned, dilapidated weatherworn tone to some of the organs or backing vocals and when paired with the chord progressions the music feels like an outward sigh of hindsight.
The genre of music is lo-fi folk but Emilie Zoé’s music never feels lo-fi. Firstly, the live drumming from Nicholas Pittet breathes human emotion over any drum loop. It adds a beautiful dynamic that feels some of the more downcast tracks feeling fluid. When all the band instruments are removed, Emilie Zoé is more than able to hold her own with some stunning ballads. The title track is a cinematic dark guitar, string and vocal-led piece with some marching drums in strategic places. Zoé reminds me vocally of Natasha Atlas at times and here is where they match closest. Musically, they aren’t oceans apart but Emilie Zoé is far rockier.
Where the album hits its highest points is when Emilie stretches her character traits. Tracks like “Roses on Fire” have Tori Amos meets Highasakite merger. Big piano-led melodies are drenched over with a gothic alt-rock layered vocal that are catchy, emotional hard-hitting and full of little motif quirks and interesting sounds. “Apollo” brings us folkgaze where the guitars and synths bleed out into a fuzzy riot of drama. “Volcan” see’s Zoé create a raw and angry explosion of self-realisation to end the album. The gravel guitars and chunky drums smash out loud but so does an in-room recorded broken piano playing a gentle melody too. Emilie sings over the top “I’m staying with myself for a while” as if she feels more comfortable in her own future skin. This comes after a song full of confessions of things she didn’t think she’d feel, see or do. The world outside is scary but Emilie is safer with her own enemy within.
“Hello Future Me” is one of those albums that will pick up a cult following from word of mouth. Emilie Zoé is fantastic at capturing a mood and balancing some guttural feels in a raw but controlled way. Her debut “Dead-End Tape” is a fantastic album that focused on a couple of plugged guitars and a noise machine and really embodied that lo-fi bedroom recording vibe. This sequel feels like Emilie is crossing the divide – one leg in the bedroom, the other in the studio. It really suits her style. Excellent.
Recommended track: Roses on Fire
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