"Precise" seems like a weird word to apply to an album that casts such a sleepy, dreamlike spell, but make no mistake - the debut solo album from Canadian-born, London, UK-based Rachel Zeffira is a work of finely hewn subtleties.
A classically trained soprano, Zeffira is best known as one-half of the pop duo Cat's Eyes with the Horrors frontman Faris Badwan. On this LP she largely dispenses with that project's washed-out shoegaze instrumentation, but not its echoey aesthetics. She reconfigures the gauzy atmospherics into a sparse, disembodied soundscape of piano, oboe and violin, with a few riffs and rhythms adding shambolic energy.
It's hard to fault the multi-instrumentalist/singer/producer's pretty orchestral arrangements and plaintive, pitch-perfect singing, but there comes a point when technique (however impressive) overshadows emotion. The album is laden with a nostalgic longing that's never as compelling as the cinematic leanings. There are moments when swirling piano or a driving rhythm injects chaotic tension into the elegiac mood, though more often the icy serenity has a numbing effect.
Top track: Break The Spell