- Album Review: Eliot Sumner - Information - 10/1010/10
Eliot Sumner, FKA I Blame Coco, makes a long awaited return with her second album "Information". An Herculean beast of epic proportions, brimming with tenebrous New Wave and brawny electronic Rock that harkens the greats of the 1980's.
Six years is a long time to be away in the music industry, but time away from the studio has helped a deserving artist find herself and allowed her to unleash her true potential. Eliot Sumner's comeback displays exemplary songwriting and a fresh take on the genres that made the 1980's a marvellous decade for music.
2016’s music scene is off to a flying start with the release of Eliot Sumner’s new album, Information. Her first was released in 2010 under her Electropop parallel, I Blame Coco. Shedding the sonics of which she soon grew tired of, Sumner went into hibernation in search of a musical identity. Years later, she emerged with with an album of tenebrous electro-rock anthems as powerful as her challenging stare and unyielding voice.
For the new listener, Sumner’s voice is an immediate standout. With it’s potent androgyny and intensity, this is a compelling voice that intones each lyric like a woven spell upon it’s unsuspecting listeners, without the need of employing intricate vocal acrobatics. In fact, Sumner’s ethereally masculine voice remains engagingly rigid from start to finish; it’s Sumner’s simplicity that makes her voice so fervent.
The album opens with the swooping slow-burner ‘Dead Arms & Dead Legs’. An overwrought aura clouds around the anxious percussion and the piano’s inquisitive stride and eventually builds to a nauseous wall of noise. Lyrically, she reflects on a vacant state of mind and walking through something, making decisions robotically.
“Six years is a long time to be away in the music industry, but time away from the studio has helped a deserving artist find herself and allowed her to unleash her true potential”
Title track ‘Information’ is a dark and isolated breakup song awash in melodramatic grandeur, new wave synths and running guitars that provide the framework for this sorrowful epic. Here, the lyrics speak of a lack of understanding and an almost despairingly desperate desire to know everything. Contrary to the forlorn subject matter, the music is highly dynamic, and only briefly slows down before ascending into a lengthy interlude that carries the song into a 7-minute timeframe.
The album takes a few twists and turns from the Electronic backbone that keeps it standing. Indie Rock scintillations and dance-punk dashes drive ‘Let My Love Lie on Your Life’, while folk-infused balladry carries ‘Say Anything You Want’ and flickers of influence from The Killers, circa Hot Fuss hover above ‘What Good Could Ever Come of This’. But no other track on the album comes close the blazing heat of ‘Halfway To Hell’, where Sumner comes for the eardrums with a satisfying glam-rock bite that will not suffer fools lightly.
The psychedelic arpeggios that circulate ‘After Dark’ return the album to it’s electronic roots, but veers in a more gothic direction. Still capable of leading a dance, it’s a far more subtle creature that permeates from the shadows. Here, Sumner’s intricate lyrical style devises an ode to overindulgence and an inability to take things in moderation.
‘I Followed You Home’ begins where ‘Information’ ends and is another pulsating new wave anthem of crestfallen obsession, if with a slightly more sinister riptide, as it’s title would suggest. The song’s ghostly tone latches onto the conscience and refuses to loosen it’s grip on listening emotions. ‘Come Friday’ follows on from ‘What Good Could Ever Come of This’ perfectly like a more self-aware version of itself. The song is on par with the title track, but teeters between petulant dance anthem and relaxing rock & roll jam. Sumner’s niche for writing sad lyrics aloft uptempo music once again proves itself a strong asset as she sings of still being love with someone and not allowing them to have another life.
An apocalyptic theme seems to lurk beneath the contorting synths of ‘Firewood’. In a perfect balance of mood and melody alongside skittering percussion and sparkling guitars, Sumner sings of opening up to someone in the final hours before the world ends in fire. The album ends on an unsettling note with the suspenseful and quietly tense ‘Species’. The electronic elements of her music are used to the Nth degree on this New Order-meets-John Foxx-meets-Joy Division curtain call. Sumner’s effortless cool factor sits comfortably with the song’s quintessentially hushed-techno flare as she sings of alienation and uncertainty.
Six years is a long time to be away in the music industry, but time away from the studio has helped a deserving artist find herself and allowed her to unleash her true potential. Eliot Sumner’s comeback displays exemplary songwriting and a fresh take on the genres that made the 1980’s a marvellous decade for music.
Information is available now. Watch the video for ‘Information’ below.