Eera’s new album Speak is simply epic. Bold, widescreen and multi-layered mountain-top-pop. It has such a glorious warmth from the opening track but the more I have listened to it (and listened, and listened, and listened) the more I have appreciated the grandness of its construction. The production, by Allister Kellaway, is as perfect as I have heard on an album. Nothing is lost in the mix, everything has a place, and the dense layers of sounds reveals something I hadn’t noticed the time before.

Speak is the second album from Norwegian artist Anna Lena Bruland and it was her aim to “to become braver and more confident” and these ten tracks fairly crackle with a confidence that far exceeds the usual point an artist is at by the two-album mark. The balance of sounds is perfection and, though it has plenty of indie-credentials, Speak is way cleverer than that as it melds the crunch of drums and clang of gritty guitar with warm, synthesised winds and abrasive sonic flourishes. The real skill comes from martialling all of these sounds into a beautiful unity, such as the arpeggiated mid-section of ‘Falling Between The Ice’, that feels like being buffeted by icy waters, ‘The Beat’, with its screaming feedback low in the mix and an elasticity from the call and response of booming low notes with high synth lines. There’s the counterpoint of distorted drums and keyboards supporting the soft tune of ‘Midnight’, ‘My Muse’ with its wonky toy-organ and thundering bass and the twin barrels of ‘Ladder’ and ‘This City’ both battering, bass-powered pop-marches with a hypnotic choruses.

Photograph by Tobias Humble

Blinding neon is combined with glorious sunshine; dizzying heights combines with subterranean depths and Bruland’s voice soars over and through the album providing a smoothness and fluidity that easily withstands the battering it gets from the arrangements. Sounds sweep across the songs like arc lights illuminating a film premiere, and the scuffed up perfection has the same tang you get from putting balsamic vinegar or pepper on strawberries. Speak is a dazzling galaxy of sounds and the listener is an Eeranaut fired out into this sonic cosmos. If the stakes are go big or go home then Eera is not spending a lot of timed at home.

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Review by Paul F Cook

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