Laetitia Sadier

Something Shines

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Something Shines is nothing if not aptly named. Filled with music that's luminous and a little distant, Laetitia Sadier's third album often feels like a culmination of her career to date in its mix of elegant sounds and political lyrics. Recorded throughout Europe and featuring collaborators such as Giorgio Tuma (who co-wrote the standout "Release from the Centre of Your Heart"), these songs find Sadier returning to a more lavishly orchestrated, Stereolab-like sound after the relatively intimate Silencio. The tumbling backing vocals on the seven-minute opener "Quantum Soup" even feel like a twice-removed cousin of Emperor Tomato Ketchup's "Metronomic Underground"; meanwhile, "The Scene of the Lie" sets lyrics that allude to Guy Debord's The Society of the Spectacle -- a longtime influence on Sadier's work -- to music that's psychedelic down to its flanged drums. A more open-ended set than Silencio, Something Shines requires closer, more engaged listening as Sadier alternates between concise statements and stream-of-consciousness reveries filled with complex musical and emotional interplay like "The Milk of Human Tenderness," which is both deeply personal and more abstractly philosophical as Sadier sings to and about her dead sister (whose passing inspired her solo debut, The Trip). Whenever the album threatens to become too meditative, she balances it with one of the more direct moments that make for Something Shines' immediate highlights. "Butter Side Up" moves from drifting to driving in its second half, and while its refrain "we need answers!" could seem too obvious coming from another artist, Sadier makes it sound both authoritative and refreshing. Likewise, "Then I Will Love You Again" allows her to put a poetic spin on the choice between responsibility and heartache. However, the album's most striking moment may be "Oscuridad," a stripped-down, scathing call to arms in the class war in which she spits out "rich" like it's a dirty word. While not all of Something Shines is this raw, listeners who take the time to absorb the album's deeper meanings as well as its surface beauty will find it another rewarding addition to Sadier's body of work.

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