Sometimes I fall for the darkness/Sometimes the future means the new backwardness,” sighs Sophie Löw, who calls herself Sophia Blenda, in “Die Neue Heiterkeit,” a song that progresses to a muffled bass with stoic composure into the heart of darkness. The 26-year-old with the haunting voice, who people of good taste already know as the singer and songwriter of the Viennese band Culk, dips her poetic explorations of social contradictions into meditative-melancholic layers of sound on her solo debut, “Die Neue Heiterkeit”, developed in sensitively staged songs an intimacy and intensity that is reminiscent of James Blake and in which the ego and society constantly fight about the reversal of power relations.

    Beguilingly disturbing literacy meets electronically charged chamber pop

    Beguilingly disturbing literacy meets electronically charged chamber pop. “Wo bleib ich” is a slow-motion song that spins in circles in search of direction as synthesizer harmonies ebb and flow. “Schwester” is close to an art song with grandiosely syncopated vocals that brace themselves against a piano. “BH” tells a disturbingly penetrating story about the empowerment and disempowerment of looks. “Ties” deconstructs pop structures with a somber thumping beat and eventually morphs into a gutted dance track to a thumping bass.

    “How loud it was” stages a relationship drama to a nervously pounding one-tone piano: “When your quarry was cleared / I saw cement in your frozen hair / I thought everything would melt away / And you come to me as a rock.” Löws Poetry consistently refuses to be unequivocally deciphered and creates a poetic cosmos that is unique in German-speaking pop. But there is always a hint of fear and violence, depression and loss and an almost unbearable closeness shimmering through the songs. And of course nothing is cheerful on this album. Not even in the fuzzy, bitter “Fun”, which becomes a swan song to the desolation of fun society.

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