The Gods We Can Touch
Aurora couldn’t be subtle even if she tried. On record, the Norwegian pop artist not only tells you exactly how she’s feeling, but she also adds instrumental drama wherever possible. A showstopper from Aurora is one where things slow down for a second before inevitably resuming their prior euphoria.
That might read like a criticism, and some may be turned off her third album, The Gods We Can Touch, for precisely those reasons. But for anyone with a soft spot for the most earnest of electropop, Gods is a consistently satisfying listen. And it wouldn’t be effective without such a confident auteur.
Her massively successful debut single Runaway marked Aurora as an artist who will go all out, whose half-speed exceeds other artists’ full-speed. But excess does not necessarily equal attention. What makes the songs feel so full isn’t the number of overdubs or mixing volume: it’s just how much Aurora puts herself into these songs.
She’s a dedicated student of pop music, using slow buildups to achieve incredible payoffs. Her choruses ring familiar, reminding me of songs by both Bat for Lashes and Massive Attack, but it never feels like she’s taking from anyone’s playbook but her own. “I’ve never had the world, so why change for it?” she asks rhetorically on standout “Giving into the Love.” Then, on self-acceptance anthem “Cure for Me,” she’s unapologetic about herself over an equally unapologetic synth melody.
Gods doesn’t just stay on the self-empowerment track. It also delves into issues like abuse, heartbreak, and the many difficulties of existence. “Being alive can hurt so very much,” Aurora mourns on the more-subdued “This Could Be a Dream,” but she’s aware of the experiences and people that make it worthwhile, including the very act of knowing you are alive.
If there’s one thing that holds Aurora back, it’s her lyrics. She’s an incredibly skilled vocalist, and while there are no explicit lyrical crimes committed, there’s also just not enough profundity or even intriguing contemplation. Her melodies and shifts in tone are better at presenting her feelings than her words herself. Details are often vague, causing songs to occasionally feel like watching a dramatic movie scene out of context.
But Aurora has shown so much talent in so many other areas that slightly underwhelming lyrics is a pretty slight Achille’s heel – to quickly allude to this album’s mythological themes. The Gods We Can Touch is an oversized but not overcrowded album, made by a pop star who will never stop never stopping.
Order The Gods We Touch by Aurora HERE