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Liv.e "Girl In The Half Pearl" Album Review

Liv.e's latest work of art is proving to be her most intricate venture yet. This project feels a lot more jungle inspired, and yet still has all the quirks of Liv.e's essence. It's much more experimental than her last album, Couldn't Wait To Tell You, and the growth in between her two LPs is really making Liv.e to be a shapeshifting musician. With layered, multidimensional production, her eccentric writing style and Neo-soul vocals, Liv.e's work is always such an intriguing listen and The Girl In The Half Pearl is no different.

And so we enter the world of Liv.e's magnificent chaos. The synths on 'Gardetto.' emulate this falling feeling, emphasised by her saying 'Oh no,' repeatedly. That jungle break beat that runs throughout the rest of the song is similar to the production on 'Ghost', the pain of loss amplified by the static-y effect on her vocals. These are then juxtaposed by an angelic tone in the second half of the song where she's longing and yearning before the pain returns as she belts in anguish.

'Find Out' is arguably Liv.e's best vocal performance on the record. The saxophone that's laced with jazz underneath her lush singing make for a really smooth, gorgeous track. It's also worth noting how the background vocals give it an old soulful feel and the chorus has such a dainty quality to it. Liv.e's lyrical stylings have always strayed outside the norms of typical song structure, in fact they feel a lot more like intrusive thoughts and scribbles from a diary. "Watch the phone light up / Turn it face down / Feel my heart sinking into the gutter" is an example of this where she recounts the plummeting feeling of seeing someone text your partner and them turning over their phone as if they've got something to hide. It also samples the intro from 'Da Rockwilder' by Method Man and Redman, flipping the synth loop. The futuristic jazz production is courtesy of Mndsgn.

The construction of 'A Slumber Party?' pays great attention to detail, it begins with a voicemail of a woman asking Liv.e to come over with an array of phone keypad sounds in the background. Liv.e's deeper register takes the shape of her contemplation before she details her desires. It's another example of her songwriting which feel like her inner thoughts - "No use missin' what's in front of me / Happiness don't always come wit' bliss / Too much aphrodisiac / Brought out the wines for them aftermaths".

"Heart Break Escape" plays into the same sentiment as in 'A Slumber Party?' in how she mentions a woman who isn't her girlfriend. The production is super synth-y as the return of the static-y vocal effects make their comeback in a way that's a lot more gentle. This song doesn't utilise a chorus, really feeling like a diary entry in the way she sets the scene within the song.

'HowTheyLikeMe!' follows a techno like rhythm which contrasts the softness of her voice. It addresses the feeling of being used - "They see me and they want to take my prize".

The breadth of the production on 'Wild Animals' are vintage keys that take inspiration from blues and jazz, played by John Carroll Kirby who has worked with Solange. In this song she addresses how she's wary when it comes to men who can be controlling. "Imma be that bitch to tell you personally / That most of these dogs don't deserve a meal" is her recognising how most of these men don't deserve women while speaking metaphorically in a clever way as the word 'bitch' also refers to a female dog.

The production on 'Our Father' feels pretty mellow til it gets glitchy as Liv.e's airy vocals float through the record. She speaks about religion in a cynical way - "But what if God wasn't really on my side? / U really got close to finding out that night / The Lord is over me protect and he guides" in that God's on his side and prevented her partner from finding out whatever she was hiding.

'NoNewNews!!!' runs with that same tempo as the tracks on the record that take inspiration from jungle. The harmonies in the chorus combined with the violins feel as if you're ascending into heaven. She also references the red pill, blue pill conundrum in her lyricism.

Glass Shadows' sees Liv.e's vocals pitched up, the style of singing is reminiscent of motown, soul and R&B. The bounce on the production gives it a fun vibe, a great way to send off the album.

Even while the beats do feel cluttered, it makes for such an interesting texture. There always seems to be a lot going on and her main vocals always help to steer the ship and pull focus to what she's musing. The record feels like you've taken psychedelic drugs and all you can hear is lo-fi jazz and jungle underneath an internal monologue. This ties in with some of the topics on the album as love often feels like a high, and a heartbreak can feel like a comedown. There's a lot of emotion on this record that's highlighted by the use of filter on her voice, the crashing effect that has makes the heartache sound all the more raw. Each song feels like a different stratosphere made of various different aspects that allow Liv.e to express all that's on her mind.


Review by Kat Friar

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