Shara Nova has never really played by the rules in My Brightest Diamond, and it’s a blessing and a curse at times. This new record sees totally chaotic atmospheres hitting you with mostly just the central singing of My Brightest Diamond to hold it all together. As Nova creates a world that her pop can call home, My Brightest Diamond crafts intense but definitely unique music.
Like much of My Brightest Diamond’s music, there’s an immediate sense of ambiance to each track that lets its pop evolve organically without ever feeling too simple. Each shift in the arrangements sets a track like “It’s Me On The Dance Floor” under a new light while its driving beats keep the ship steady. What the track lacks in a more chorus-like refrain, it more than makes up for in its demented meditations on one idea until it’s something you’ve never heard. In all the abrasive pop of “Rising Star” hints of hip hop creep all around it, and see Nova treating all her instruments like voices in a choir. This results in a My Brightest Diamond song that while less heavy, definitely floats in a strangely magical way. “Another Chance” however sinks into a kind of jazzy ballad, with Nova’s own vocals playing off themselves. It’s the sinking of chorus line into a warm key change that really feels totally out of this world though.
“Champagne” bites hard with its grimy synth tones and lets choral lines call out like specters in the dark. Once it finally drops into its beats, this track is one that’s so intensely fierce you’ll feel off until it’s over, but easily exhilarated. With the colossal mixing on “You Wanna See My Teeth” My Brightest Diamond blends a kind of tribal rhythm work and vocal delivery into art-pop. More than that, her outlandish production that mixes panning and the slow crescendo of feedback makes for a totally unreal listening experience. Admittedly, there’s such a stark and loose delivery to this album that it might not be for everyone, and all the jarring twists and turns can make it a very mood-specific listen. In this way “A Million Pearls” is undoubtedly a strong song but one that may be too intense to put on repeat.
In its swinging rhythms “Sway” really creates a sense of movement in its performance that emulates its central themes and makes for a really kinetic listen. This and its punchy arrangements make music that really cuts out with jagged energy. “Supernova” is the most accessible and driving pop track on the record, and thanks to its sequencing and light production quirks, it’s a great palette cleanser. This closing end of the record applies all these more hanging production styles to pop you’ll recognize, and twists it until you’re enchanted but still able to follow along without tiring out. Between the cutting hits of “Mother” and the ghostly-funk of “White Noise” the album ends on a surprisingly upbeat tone.
Words by Owen Maxwell