Thursday, January 29, 2015

New musical obsession: Brooke Fraser

Taylor Swift isn't the only multi-platinum artist who's ditching her old musical overcoat and pulling on a spandex bodysuit.

Brooke Fraser, one New Zealand's best-selling singer-songwriters, has abandoned the gentle indie folk of her first three albums and "gone electric" on her new record, Brutal Romantic.

Released in her home country last November, it's produced by David Kosten (Bat For Lashes, Everything Everything, Marina and the Diamonds) and presents a thrillingly dark take on modern pop. The moody single Kings and Queens is worth a spin for its arms-akimbo chorus, while teaser track Psychosocial is just... well, odd.

But it's her next release that's got me excited. In Magical Machine, Fraser presents herself as a parade of technological innovations - "I'm your telescope", "I'm your ATM" - all building to the euphoric chorus: "Power me on, control and command / I'm your magical machine / We can dream digital dreams".

Reflecting the subject matter, the music flirts and flutters with bleeping synths until the final, humanising chorus where a spiralling string section lifts you above the electronic thrum.

Given all of that, I'd assumed the song was about people's increasingly intimate relationships with their phone, but Brooke explains otherwise:
"Magical Machine is about how there is usually more to us than meets the eye and how sometimes people see us as the roles we represent in our lives; parent, child, boss, teacher before they see us as people."

So there you go. I've listened to Magical Machine about 12 times while writing this post and, honestly, it just keeps getting better. Have a listen below.

Brooke Fraser - Magical Machine

You'll be pleased to hear that Brooke can also "cut it" live, as this acoustic(ish) performance of the Magical Machine on Radio New Zealand proves.

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