Sarah Blasko What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have

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Rating: 3.5/5

Styles: feminine electronic pop
Others: Barbara Morgenstern, Dorit Chrysler, Damero

With the somber Australian’s second album, Sarah Blasko has officially given herself the national treasure status she deserves. Released late last year in her home country, What The Sea Wants, The Sea Will Have garnered her several major ARIA Award nominations (including Best Album, Best Female Artist, and Breakthrough Artist), while sales reached gold status in January, so it’s safe to say the word is out there. But will she have the same impact here (being North American... I assume she’s already big in the UK, where mainstream tastes are a little more adventurous)? I can’t see that happening.

Her sophomore full-length and her approach to music are too unique and artistically satisfying to catch on in the Aguilera Lohan mainstream. However, she bridges the gaps far enough between German electronic pop and Sarah Harmer singer-songwriter indie to see What The Sea Wants getting picked up by the Starbucks and L Word soundtrack crowd... gratefully, I might add. Though, like most critics, I am a crusty bastard with looks and a heart both of solid coal, her fragile Tarsier-like voice melts my heart, while my soul sits enraptured by her sullen computer and post-rock sounds.

The opening, lightly pierced synth lead and frozen, programmed drums of “For You” lets you know right off the bat that this isn’t just part two of her debut, The Overture & The Underscore, which stuck mostly to brilliantly underplayed, melancholic rock arrangements. Not that she’s forsaken that aesthetic or anything – the next track, “The Garden’s End,” takes things back to her ethereal pop rock roots with a deeper suggestion of baroque charm – but she’s obviously dedicated to expanding her artistic palette, as opposed to taking the easy way out and merely sticking to the winning formula, which definitely gets the nod of respect from me. Her first single, “[Explain],” is simply moving, with her Joanna-Newsom-without-the-shrill voice gliding over a plodding bassoon, elegant piano, and light strings. Lyrically, she’s mostly interested in moments of success and failure of love between mildly dysfunctional people, dripping sexual tension, and emotionally wounded expression with each syllable. Yes, even for a cold curmudgeon like me, she’s got the goods to win you over in your darkest shadow and brightest days.

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