My Electric Family

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Annabel Alpers isn’t quite so solo on My Electric Family as she was on earlier Bachelorette releases, and it shows. The delicacy and intimacy of The End of Things and Isolation Loops reflected the fact that she made those albums with very little outside help. Here, Alpers recruits a full backing band, as well as the Royal New Zealand Air Force Brass Band, to broaden the horizons of her electro-folk-pop. The results are much livelier and more dynamic than anything she’s done before. “Mindwarp” is downright buoyant, switching from driving, disco-tinged verses to trippy breakdowns with charismatic ease, but psychedelic dance-pop is actually one the album’s more predictable musical hybrids. Alpers has always favored an unusual mix of sounds and concepts in Bachelorette’s music, but everything is given room to breathe and blossom on My Electric Family: “Instructions for Insomniacs,” for example, begins with an acoustic ramble that unfolds into a psych-pop reverie complete with dense vocal harmonies and flute-like synths. As involving as Alpers’ melodies and arrangements are, it’s the tension between the organic and mechanical aspects of her music that makes My Electric Family’s best moments so intriguing. Alpers sings with almost robotic precision, but her raspy alto is quite human -- a contrast she uses to its fullest on “Dream Sequence,” where she sings of “neural pathways” over bouncy, brassy indie pop. Her sci-fi fables and morality tales, filled with characters somewhere in between humanity and technology, are standouts. The sleepy “Mercurial Man” revolves around a lover who’s literally in Alpers’ blood, while “Her Rotating Head” is a fascinating (and deceptively demure) meditation on femininity focused on a passive, plastic dream girl who is “eternally yours/to reject and explore.” Though the album returns to Alpers’ more insular style as it comes to a close, My Electric Family is still a significant step forward for this Bachelorette who is no longer quite so alone.

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