Author: Riley Urbano
Photo by Tonje Thilesen
Julia Holter brings all the charm, ambition, and dramatic flair you love your favorite theater kid for into the looser and often-raggedy world of indie pop, and it plays surprisingly well. It’s been almost a decade since she came onto the scene with a couple of operatic works composed with software synthesizers in her bedroom, then she finally found the budget for some session guys on 2013s’ caleidoscopici Loud City Song, then she finally hit my radar in 2015 with her big crossover-hit thus far, Have You In My Wilderness. Between albums, Holter does things like scoring limited runs of old silent movies, and providing soundscapes for wildly fancy mixed-media arts installations.
Have You in My Wilderness is, without a doubt, in the running for best album of the last decade for me. It’s like if Nico sang on Heaven Or Las Vegas, or maybe if Liz Fraser sang on The Marble Index. There’s that theatrical sort of gravitas in how she sings, everything’s just a bit cheeky, but she also displays a newfound and serious command of dream pop aesthetics that opened her up to a much wider audience. If there’s a record to start with where Julia Holter is concerned, Have You in My Wilderness is it.
But, Have You in My Wilderness is not the record Julia Holter is bringing to Neumos next week in the midst of an expansive World tour. No, that would be last year’s Aviary, a record that invites a lot more head-scratching but is really probably no less special. On Aviary, Holter followed her muse a bit deeper into the wilderness, coming back with a ninety-minute long record that’s quite intense, more dissonant, but also sharper and sometimes even shockingly poppy. Peep for instance this track “Les Jeux to You:”
This song starts off sounding a bit like Beach House, but Holter doesn’t waste any time establishing how deceptively fresh her take on chamber pop and dream pop really is, and the song’s multipart structure totally speaks to that. Her live setup seems to include a host of unconventional instruments this time around, and it seems like she really stands a chance of doing her studio masterpieces justice in a live setting. If these sorts of vibes seem interesting to you, you can catch Julia Holter next Wednesday at Neumos with an opening set from Tess Roby.
RILEY URBANO | I just love dream pop | KXSU Music Reporter