Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Album Review - The Bones of Us

by Eliza Hull (out now)

It's a game
It's a win, it's a lose
It's a game of chance
It's a game
Back and forth, up and down
It's a game of chance.

It's no secret we've had a lot of love for the music of Melbourne's Eliza Hull over the past couple of years. That it only took one listen to love her debut album The Bones of Us was no surprise. With her previous releases, including the stunning EP The Ghosts You Never Catch, Hull has proven herself an artist that will confidently deliver the musical goods each and every time. Along with longtime collaborator and producer, Hayden Calnin and with Dylan Hill providing the beats, she creates the most perfectly dreamy atmospheres that can build you up just as easily as they can break you down. While a track like 'Walk Away' is built on sparse beats that feel cold and isolating, Hull's voice adds an appreciated warmth that's missing from much of today's electronic pop. The heartfelt performances and the stories of each track will keep bringing you back for more and more of The Bones of Us.

Positioning 'Caught' alongside 'Christoper' creates a beautiful 1-2 punch. We've spent a lot of time with these tracks over the past year (or two, in the case of the latter track) and they've "aged" incredibly well. I guess they're like fine wine. That gets better and better with age, right? At least that's what I've heard... I'm sort of on a boxed wine budget. 'Caught' and 'Christopher' both hold stories about having to get away, to run, but they're approached in two very different ways. 'Caught' is the most anthemic number on The Bones of Us. If I was at an Eliza Hull show, I'd have the urge to get a lighter out and wave it in the air when 'Caught' was played. On the other hand, 'Christopher' would probably have me pretending I had something in my eye, so no one could see the manly tears I wouldn't be crying. It's a complex track. A chorus that promises our narrator will be there for the song's title character. Verses that show our narrator is really on her way out the door and it's likely she won't be looking back. It's rare that I get to describe a performance as hauntingly beautiful these days, because I promised I'd only use that for Eliza Hull a long time ago when I first heard 'Christopher'.

Eliza Hull has always had a way with words and that songwriting game is strong throughout The Bones of Us. The lines at the top are from 'Skeleton' and completely grab your attention as soon as you hear them. I don't want to spoil all of the goodness for you, but here's some of my favourite lyrics from the album.

"And you know I wouldn't change it, all of our lies and the dark is all that we need." - 'Satellite'

"I've been wrestling in my sleep, I touch you in my dreams, now I don't want to wake up, do you... dream of me too?" - 'Dreamer'

"Oh, life with your head above water... sink with me." - 'Head Above Water'

I'd sink with Eliza Hull anytime. 'Head Above Water' closes out The Bones of Us. You might think a track asking you to 'sink' would be a downer, but you'd be wrong. Way wrong. 'Head Above Water' builds to a stunning finish, ending the album on the highest of highs. Don't think of it as sinking, think of it as taking a plunge that pays off spectacularly. It's a risk, but taking the risk can lead to the greatest of rewards. Which you could say about the music of Eliza Hull. Take the plunge and give this a chance. You'll love the payoff.

Matt Bond gives The Bones of Us four Roisin Murphy heads out of five...         

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