Since she burst out onto the scene in 2013, UK Producer SOPHIE has created a space within the pop/electronic world that has remained virtually unmatched. With her bubblegum bass sound and chipmunked vocal guests, SOPHIE’s music always felt like a cross between commercial jingles and Xiu Xiu. Her early singles like “Lemonade” or “ELLE” were so meticulously crafted they felt almost inhuman in their design.
But late last year SOPHIE dropped the surprise single “It’s Okay To Cry” and in turn introduced a bit of humanity into her work. In the self-directed clip for the song, SOPHIE appear as herself for the first time, singing in her own falsetto and embracing all the subtle flaws within it. For the first time, it felt like SOPHIE was as much a part of her songs as the sounds she surrounding them with.
And now on her debut album, OIL OF EVERY PEARL’s UN-INSIDES, SOPHIE continues this openness and in turn showcases why she is such an important force in the world of music.
The first three tracks off Oil encompass the three singles debut before the release of the album but also are an excellent introduction to the many styles of SOPHIE. Opener “It’s Okay To Cry” remains as stunning as ever even a year after release. The way the song slowly builds to its triumph finish is a thing a beauty and is a good counterpoint to the go for broke singles of SOPHIE’s past.
“Ponyboy” by comparison is taking the maximalism of early songs like “Hard” and going even further. With it’s crushing bass and distorted vocals mixed with the hyper-sexualized lyrics that demand the listener “spit on my face” and “bite the bit” the song is equal parts erotic and scary.
And then there is “Faceshopping” which is the best of the three singles and the one that most closely follows the themes laid forth by the rest of the album. With vocals from Mozart’s Sister, the track is an ode to body alteration and the welcoming power of technology to allow us to more fully become ourselves.
This is a theme that punctuates much of the record; the theory of transhumanism is clearly something that SOPHIE holds in high regard. But smartly she mixes these high concepts in the middle of some of the sweetest love songs to come out of the electronic genre in some time.
“Not Okay” and “Infatuation” are beautiful odes to someone special with voice but with lyrics that cut to that idea of truly knowing someone through some form of technology. And on “Immaterial” the question of self is posed against lyrics that a full of self-love platitudes
The album ends with the ten-minute epic “Whole New World/Pretend World” which feels equal parts political statement and dance party. SOPHIE and Mozart’s Sister sing of finally finding love in them and for them while the music feels like the apocalypse is happening around them.
It’s a fantastic closer and one that captures why OIL is such a stunner. Amongst the chaos, SOPHIE has found her place and as her music shows across the album she’s all for taking us along with her.
OIL OF EVERY PEARL’s UN-INSIDES is out now via Transgressive / Future Classic.