For her second album proper, Aurora goes big. If visual proof were needed for this, compare the cover of last year’s extended EP Infections Of A Different Kind, where the hands face inward, and this year’s sequel A Different Kind Of Human, where the picture is almost identical but for the hands projecting outwards, into the open.
Space is a big thing for the Norwegian singer here. It plays a part from the recording location in France to the massive vistas between her distinctive vocal and the sparse accompanying bass section. The lean sound suits her voice, which she layers with idiosyncratic backing vocals and a raft of percussion, which become the album’s beating heart.
The track titles – Animal, Hunger, The Seed – all speak of the album’s primal nature, and in the sessions Aurora has really threw caution to the wind, encouraging healthy musical exploration and, on occasion, simply opening her mouth wide and going for it. Hints of that unbuttoned approach abound in the first track The River, the voice reaching for the heights with the lyrics: “Let the river run wild. I don’t miss the sadness when it’s gone, and the feeling of it makes me smile.”
Her quirky style occasionally spills over into an over-mannered approach, as in Hunger, which unexpectedly takes its melodic lines and ornamentations into Karl Jenkins territory. It would be interesting to rifle through her clearly sizeable music collection.
Daydreamer is superb, cast in dual tempo where an urgent rush in its verse gives way to a big, percussively weighted chorus. In Bottles takes on an enchanted air, with the dove-like cooing at its heart, but with weighty rhythms and big chord movements, the chorus is another winner. The Seed is equally captivating as one of the album’s biggest tracks, with choral humming giving way to another big chorus with lyrical clout” “You cannot eat money, oh no.” It is one of many examples of the conscious text Aurora writes, that of a young woman with a keen awareness of the world around her.
She has a huge range of expressive vocal techniques for one still so relatively young, suitable for big textures (check her three guest spots on the recent Chemical Brothers album No Geography) and small, too, where she can really let the imagination run riot. The lyrics may be conscious at times, but on other occasions they are enjoyably far-fetched and futuristic. “It’s time to go, you are infected. Come as you are, don’t be scared of us, you’ll be protected,” she sings to an alternative race on the title track.
Yet no matter how far from home the lyrical writing goes, the power of Aurora’s vocal delivery wins through. Given an inch she creatively takes a mile, cultivating a unique vocal style and making an album that delivers several big punches. Fans of Zola Jesus, Lykke Li and Lorde will warm to this approach, and her music sits comfortably alongside the best of all of those. It is pop music for the future – unpredictable, forceful, winsome and primal in equal measure. As long as Aurora is allowed to keep her eyes wide open, the sky really is the limit for this powerful creative force.