What does Lupa J sound like?
Industrial electronica with a gothic and neon-soaked indie rough edge.
The review of Lupa J – A New Kind of Magic
It’s been fascinating listening to an artist move from cello indie pop with some electronic elements to an art techno rave conjurer. Electronica has always been part of the Australian’s music but each release has become more brutal. On their new album ‘A New Kind of Magic’, Lupa J embraces the club scene fully to offer their most aggressively industrial album to date.
Caustic beats, bone-breaking kick drums and warped stretched across time are the order of the day. Tracks like ‘Control’ confront the listener with pulverising rhythms and gurgling baselines over anything else. It’s hedonistic and ritualistic. The chaos of the distorted vocals, crunchy overblown drums and throbbing bass is akin to ‘Pluto’ or ‘Declare Independence’ from Bjork.
Even when Lupa J focuses on sharp melodies and catchy lyrics things feel chaotic. Whether it’s on the synth-pop jungle grooves of ‘Saviour’ or the Lamb and Grimes tinged ‘Always Wanting’, the music is built around industrial noises. Whooshes, metallic bangs, glassy hues made of cuts and bruises – there’s an edge to everything. Probably the most commercial track is ‘Funeral’. It’s like a Lady Gaga track laced with absinthe. The brooding ‘What Do I Do with the Missing’ is a trance track with everything but the drums. Fast synths pulsate in the distance with frequency shifts like a heart monitor. It’s as close to pretty as the album gets and even then it is a shapeshifting menace.
Elsewhere Lupa J harks back to their stunning previous album with sharp arpeggios basking in the apocalypse afterglow. “My ribs are Tired” is the perfect example of this. Guitars and electric cellos aren’t completely gone either. “Twenty Three” is a rare quieter piece of solace that reflects on how a young 20-something is struggling to balance personal and global upheaval. Paired with ‘Young Drug’ we have a wonderful insight into turbulent emotions. The latter song sports some excellent bleep percussion too.
Since I’ve name-dropped a few of my other favourite artists I’d like to through another one in. Imogen Heap. Lupa J takes cues from Heap in the vocal treatment department. I don’t think we get a single track that isn’t heavily vocoded, dual-layered or stretching Lupa J’s vocal into contorted positions. The title track crams all this into an EDM anthem ready for the dancefloor. ‘The Feeling’ uses vocals and various field sounds to tell a story in time over chirpy synth chords. ‘Guardian Angel’ plays around with pitch bending of individual synth notes so nothing stays in its shape. It sounds like the song itself is melting under the weight of the voice. This all leads me to the closing track and the comment on Lupa J’s life. ‘So Much To Consume’ is a bold, striving explosion between rest and recuperation. The choruses are like a bobsleigh run of synth energy and screaming vocals whilst the verses are like machines powering up that next dopamine shot. It’s an interesting comment on excess and capitalism as we just from one hype train to another.
There’s so much to love about ‘A New Kind of Magic’. Whilst it doesn’t quite edge out what was my favourite Lupa J album ‘Swallow Me Whole‘ (which was my favourite album of 2019), this is a very close second. It took me a few listens to click with it because it’s less hooky but there is no denying that this is the top tier of indie electronica music. Highly recommended.
Recommended track: Saviour
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