Maria Minerva


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Perhaps reflecting her move from Estonia to Brooklyn, Maria Minerva also moves toward more overtly pop territory on Histrionic. As on her previous album, Will Happiness Find Me?, the results are never cut-and-dried, and she remains one of the most thoughtful purveyors of 21st century synth pop. On Histrionic, she makes the desires often hidden in dance-pop more transparent and more adamant while remaining self-referential and aloof: "The Beginning" is undeniably kinetic, but as she sings "You're one with the crowd tonight" she positions herself as an observer soundtracking someone else's night out. "Spirit of the Underground" is even more pointed, as Minerva flits between disgust, boredom, and hope on her "endless journey through the night." Somehow, the emotions in Histrionic's songs are even more complex now that they're girded by more hooks and choruses; "Deepest Darkest" offsets confessions like "The loneliest moment is enough time to cry a million tears" with its breezy, R&B-tinged production and Minerva's deadpan delivery. Throughout the album, her talent for creating striking atmospheres shines; on "Endgame," the song sounds like it's decaying in apprehension of a breakup as she catalogs the wasted effort put into a failing relationship. She's equally philosophical and romantic on "Galaxy," where the luminous synths provide one of the clearest links to Will Happiness Find Me? Sometimes, Histrionic feels caught in limbo between more surreal, ethereal moments such as "Wolves & Lambs," which sets an excerpt of Comte de Lautréamont's surreal poem Les Chants de Maldoror to heady electronics, and more straightforward tracks like "Runaway," a standout that nods to late-'80s pop and hip-hop. The album attempts a volatile mix of sounds and ideas, but more often than not, they work. Equally sleek and intimate, Histrionic's arresting juxtapositions take Minerva's music to a new level.

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