Kate Miller-Heidke

Nightflight

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Kate Miller-Heidke's career, at least from an American perspective, may seem a little convoluted; her break-out status in Australia has mostly resulted in overlapping and retitled releases in the U.S. Nightflight aims to end that confusion to one degree or another, and happily does so in large part simply because it's so enjoyable it can stand on its own rather than simply being the next in a series of releases. With an approach that feels somewhere between Bel Canto's studied mysteriousness and Florence + the Machine's pop-friendly widescreen feeling -- and, as always, the overarching presence of Kate Bush as a strong but not sole lodestone -- Nightflight doesn't surprise so much as reinvigorate, with Miller-Heidke's working of sometimes familiar tropes turning into one strong song after another. Caught somewhere between cleanly energetic rock, piano-led moments, and Miller-Heidke's sometimes swirled vocals, the result is a remarkably enjoyable melange. "Ride This Feeling" kicks things off with that energetic front, with Miller-Heidke's underrated ear for a compelling lyric standing out with lines like "For some reason I decided to take off my clothes." In contrast, a song like "Sarah" builds up slowly to big choruses, a kind of monumentalism in miniature that recurs elsewhere on the album, as with "Humiliation." Throughout, Miller-Heidke's and her collaborator's secret weapon might be the drumming, which sometimes suddenly slams up in big fills as on the title track, matching the rampaging desire of its chorus perfectly while underscoring the regrets of the coda. It makes the calm steadiness of a song like "Let Me Fade" stand out all the more, the arrangements a familiar enough blend of piano and strings but its lyrical restless tiredness something a touch more individual. Then there's a song like "Beautiful Darling" making the joys of domesticity and love something worthy of the Edge-like guitar part, but with a warmth Bono is too overbearing to allow to show. Miller-Heidke makes things her own, with style and energy in equal measure.

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