Little Scream

The Golden Record

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The Golden Record opens with an ethereal, echoing melody that sounds as though it’s being sung from the altar of a cathedral. An acoustic guitar slowly enters the mix, then the distant thump of a kickdrum, followed by background harmonies and a hazy, watercolor swirl of orchestral instruments. The rest of Little Scream’s debut follows suit, flitting between scaled-down folk music and lush, widescreen panoramas of sound. Recorded in Montreal with a host of local hotshots -- most notably Richard Parry, who shares production credit with Little Scream herself -- The Golden Record approaches its loudest moments like an artsy Arcade Fire, adding acoustic instruments and scant, repetitive riffs into a towering jumble of chamber pop. “Guyegaros,” with its half-spoken/half-sung verses and haunting dobro riffs, belongs in Quentin Tarantino's next spaghetti western, and “Your Radio” rides a steady crescendo of shoegaze guitars and choir vocals for five full minutes, eventually dissolving into a cacophony of drums. On the quieter numbers, Little Scream transforms herself into a first-rate folksinger, crooning her way through pastoral ballads like “The Heron and the Fox” and filling “Black Cloud” with whistles, strings, and an unexpected minor-key bridge. Nothing is “normal” on The Golden Record -- the songs are poked, prodded, and turned on their head at random intervals -- but everything sounds gorgeous, from Little Scream’s hazy warble to the two minutes of rainfall, audible rush-hour traffic, and wind chimes that end the album. This is an absolute beast of a debut.

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