Xenia Beliayeva

Ever Since

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After five years of collaborations, singles, and guest appearances, it would be something of a surprise if Xenia Beliayeva had fallen flat with her full-length debut on Shitkatapult. But Ever Since isn't merely a good effort, it's a great one, something that matched the wider pop zeitgeist to a T thanks to its breakthrough of synth-friendly/coolly sung groups such as La Roux. But instead of embracing a full pop explosion, Beliayeva finds her own space drawing on a variety of earlier touchstones, from the brutal crispness of D.A.F. to the commanding vocals of Gina X, in concert with her own reworking of blunter dance elements from more recent years via her labelmates and elsewhere. The title track sets the powerful tone from the start, balancing restraint with a smooth and suddenly uplifting chorus. Equally strong are songs like "Secrets and Spies, "Know Me" (thanks especially to its steadily rising chorus and radio signal synth tones) and "DNA," the latter a collaboration with Miss Kittin. That said, the consistent strength and approach of the album is almost less striking as it continues, thus, Beliayeva succeeds even more distinctly when she lets the thrilling sternness of much of her music sidestep into other styles -- the swooping tones on "New Day" are the first signal, and perhaps not surprisingly, also the first song where her vocals move front and center rather than sounding as much caught in the instruments as controlling them. "Cry To" similarly works in that vein but "Satellite," the strong album closer, is the best of the three, bringing in a sense of outer space wonder for a newer time, thanks to both the metaphor and the strong arrangement.

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