Consummation sees Brooklyn-based artist Katie Von Schleicher expand and complicate her chamber pop sound. More unpredictable and testing than 2017’s Shitty Hits, Von Schleicher is here to dissect past relationships and examine the root causes of their breakdown. Her lyrics are sparse, often amounting to a few repeated lines per song, but always feel pointed. Their aim is to pack as much mystery, distrust and second-guessing into each scene; alongside muffled alarms and warbled notes, they nurture the record’s slippery feel.
The album sounds wiry thin and guarded early on, until Von Schleicher shows a hint of melancholy while lulling into the Angel Olsen-like chorus of ‘Nowhere’. The pace quickens to a gallop on ‘Caged Sleep’, though it’s hard to shake the sense that something’s not right – the calmness feels surface-level, a mood that Von Schleicher likens to “filming desert scenes, all strange and serene”.
Some songs stick to sharp indie guitar riffs while others turn operatic in scope. Von Schleicher delivers both these approaches with confidence, though Consummation works best when she strikes a balance between the two. On ‘Loud’, for example, her vocals roam around a room that grows slowly more crowded; ‘Messenger’ also feels potent as a gravelly riff finally tears through a ghostly atmosphere.
Consummation’s cast of characters appear detached from themselves, often descending down spiral staircases. The crooning ‘Strangest Thing’ cries for help before it caves in on itself, while the surreal confrontations on ‘Power’ feel ingrained with real life anxieties. Equal parts resolute and fatalistic, ‘Nothing Lasts’ draws the record to a fittingly open-ended close. Channelling Cate Le Bon in its more melodic, piano-led moments and Aldous Harding in its evasive turns, Consummation is a patchwork of conflicting stances and miscommunications.
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