Album Reviews

Julia Holter – Something In The Room She Moves

(Domino) UK release date: 22 March 2024

This absorbing, cohesive sixth album sees her journey through the cloudscape, balancing the experimental and melodic in enchanting style

Julia Holter - Something In The Room She Moves Since releasing her debut album Tragedy back in 2011, Los Angeles based composer Julia Holter has always been able to balance the experimental and the melodic in her ambitious, multi-dimensional music. A quick journey through her back catalogue reveals evidence of subtle shifts and discreet changes in focus but also a consistent overall aesthetic, largely underpinned by the clarity and precision of her voice and an exploratory, wider musical vision. Sixth album Something In The Room She Moves very much continues this trend, managing to showcase the various facets to her work, art pop infused with emotion and intelligence sitting alongside left-leaning, mini sonic canvases.

One of the album’s key inspirations was the circle of life, specifically the birth of Holter’s daughter and the death of loved ones, including her young nephew. The title might be a play on one of the lyrics found in Something by The Beatles (Holter found herself singing songs by the Liverpudlian quartet to her daughter at night) but the music comes from a very different place (although she has, like many others, also expressed her enjoyment at watching the eight-hour Get Back documentary). Given the various human interactions that fed into the album’s genesis it’s not a surprise to discover it has a certain empathy and warmth to it. It’s a view backed up by Holter, who herself explained how she “was trying to create a world that’s fluid-sounding, waterlike, evoking the body’s internal sound world”.

It opens with the celestial loops of Sun Girl, which like much of the album seems to be in possession of a light humidity. The blissful, dreamy cycles continue on These Morning while the title track has an alluring sense of mystery, balancing the delicacy of her voice against the relative density of the surrounding arrangements. As an opening trio they offer an airy, cotton wool softness with which the listener can gently ease themselves into the album’s soundworld.

Meyou offers something of a reset point, a meditative, deep listening centrepiece which has something of a cleansing effect (although the occasional vocal sharpness guards against things becoming too comfortable). It’s followed by the enchanting, percussive art pop of Spinning which sees her obliquely ponder “what is delicious and what is omniscient and what is the circular magic I’m visiting?”. A similar note is struck on Evening Mood which projects healing, quasi-New Age vibes. Holter has revealed it was in part inspired by the underwater adventures of the Studio Ghibli movie Ponyo, a certain refreshing fluidity very much in evidence. It feels like both tracks could be easily slotted into career highlight Have You In My Wilderness but Talking To The Whisper proves an altogether more animated and improvisatory proposition, recalling the more experimental moments on last album Aviary.

By the time we reach closing track Who Brings Me the journey through the cloudscape is complete, sealing an experience that is equal parts head and heart music. It’s an absorbing, cohesive listen that casts fresh light on familiar structures and melds them into new and appealing shapes.

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Julia Holter – Something In The Room She Moves
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