The first three terms Russell Louder uses to describe their EP on their soundcloud is #BedroomPop, #Experimental, and #self-produced. I won’t lie, I was a little hesitant and a lot skeptical of what I was walking into. There aren’t many artists I can think of who can successfully pull off creating entire songs – that’s writing, recording, singing and producing – completely independent of collaboration or outside help. Imogen Heap is one who instantly comes to mind and then I draw a blank.
‘Think Of Light’ is the first EP from the Charlottetown-based performance artist. The first characteristic that stands out is how striking their vocal is in amidst layers of synths and beats, cutting through even when the music dominates. Think Florence Welsh as filtered through the vocals of Jimmy Somerville (lead singer of 80s trio Bronski Beat: Smalltown Boy) mixed with hypnotic mid-tempo multi-layered production.
The first track, ‘Another Day’, was initially challenging to grasp and is the least focused of the group, but when the second track came around, I was convinced. There’s something here.
Much of Louder’s approach is experimental. They first learned the power sound can have in capturing emotion and through that created music with the ability to sway the feelings of the listener. Combined with lyrics about the pain of ending relationships is a particular method of treatment on the vocals that goes further to emphasize that feeling of loneliness and desolation, resulting in songs that are as gut-wrenching as they are enticing. You can feel them.
The last song, ‘In The Morning’, is completely different as the synths and beat layers get replaced by guitars and vocal layers in the atmospheric Bon-Ivor-like recording that ends on an uplifting note when they close with the line “…and the light will come to greet you in the morning.” It’s a hopeful light at the end of an emotional tunnel.
Russell Louder left me not only pleasantly surprised but wanting to hear more. With a voice as versatile as theirs, I would definitely like to see them expand on the material in this EP by exploring their vocals across different styles and tempos, but as a first-time release, their ability to independently create such well-rounded electronic pop songs has me impressed. #NoLongerSkeptical