On this latest album, Agnes Obel delivers to us immaculate production and hauntingly beautiful vocals in apretty package of chamber pop. Though a wide variety of instruments are used across the album, no more than a few are used at a time, helping create the eerie, low-key atmosphere that represents the album cover well, all without losing any of its cohesion.
The album kicks off with a driving piano melody at the very beginning of the album on the intro track, “Cameras Rolling,” followed by Obel’s subtly manipulated, fragile vocals, which set the tone of the album to perfection. Instrumental modulations on this track such as the piano melody switching to the marimba, are executed more smoothly than one could imagine, and a number of dramatic vocal manipulations help create a phenomenal sense of progression within the track — these qualities could be applied to pretty much any song on Myopia in the best way possible, avoiding any sense of monotony or stagnation.
These minor changes build up to some absolutely stunning moments on select tracks, one of the more notable ones being on the third song of the album, “Island of Doom.” At every chorus, Agnes belts out, to perfection, rising melodies in the repetition of the line, “when the lights fade out,” as her voice gets more and more distorted, leading to what sounds like an impossibly deep and slowed down vibrato on every third recurrence of the line. Obel’s vocals take a breather on a few tracks, leaving some short instrumental passages that manage to continue and often build greatly upon the mysterious elements of Myopia. The sixth track, “Drosera,” runs just under 2 minutes and 30 seconds but is very dense and fulfilling as an addition to the album. With a leading piano coming straight out of a horror movie and distant percussive shots and staccato strings backing it up, currents of uncompromising suspense become overwhelming and the end of the song feels like pure relief from the looming, sinister feeling created by the song.
As if the music itself wasn’t already near-flawless, the lyrics on Myopia also do their part to fully deliver while not doing too much. One of the better examples on this comes from the final track of the album, “Won’t You Call Me.” The song is very restrained vocally and instrumentally, but the mixing creates the very hazy and melancholic aura that Obel’s lyrics take fully advantage of. The chorus, stating, “Won’t you call, won’t you call me? When the seconds are laughing, for the sake of my sanity,” delivers powerfully raw emotion in its simplicity in context of the music. Ultimately, Myopia is a relatively simple and meditative take on expert songwriting, as shown in the musical progression and immaculate production across every single minute of the album.
Recommended If You Like: Current 93, Sufjan Stevens, Tindersticks
Recommended Tracks: 1 (Camera’s Rolling), 3 (Island of Doom), 5 (Myopia), 6 (Drosera), 10 (Won’t You Call Me)
Do Not Play: N/A
Written by Fernando Claudio-Lopez on 03/12/2020