Less than a year after her full length debut “Tragedy” Holter is back with a brand new long player. I loved “Tragedy” and even named it one of my favorite albums of 2011 so I was pretty stoked to see that she was following it up so quickly. You can tell with the albums opener Marienbad that this is not going to be the same kind of jarred other-worldly record as the debut. She has replaced the bloops and blips with a washed out haze of synth that has become huge in the bedroom lo-fi movement that has been (sadly) popular the last two years. The creativity and unique sounds thrown out the window and my thoughts of Julia Holter being an interesting new sound for music have also been tossed. I have no problem with an artist changing things up from record to record but what we have here has been done to death by every scenester that gets lauded over in the hip indie blogosphere of late. Not until track 6 “Goddess Eyes II” did I actually care enough to re-listen to a track and I had already forgotten the previous 5 which could have easily been just one long track. The standout track “Four Gardens” even muddles around a bit until the 3 minute mark (half-way through the song) before it finds a strong footing.
Julia still has a pleasant voice and you can tell that she had a few solid ideas but they get lost in tracks that are too long and too drone. What I loved about the first record was that Julia could build a series of what seemed to be unrelated sounds and still come out with a cohesive tune. That same sensibility is gone but she sure does love her Microkorg! Just find a few keys that sound good together and hold them down for a while. Overdub a playful lead lick over and some snythed up vocals and repeat this same process for 10 songs. This album feels very half-hearted and would have been better served had the 3 or so best tracks had been put out on an Ep instead of surrounded with filler.