Caruso’s Brain, Selina Martin’s fourth album, sees the Toronto songwriter moving in a sharp-as-shards experimental Euro-pop direction after 2010’s rockist, eclectic Disaster Fantasies, finding fans overseas (where it was first released) and drawing rightful comparisons to Björk.
Caruso’s Brain is cohesive in an unsettling weirdo-pop kind of way: a record of Torontonian heartbreak and isolation perhaps best understood by folks far, far, away, if only because it is so atypically Canadian. Yet Canadian it is, as evidenced by Wish List, an ambient tune of seasonal uncheer (“I’m feeling hollow / here in Toronto,” Martin sings).
Caruso’s Brain is about wanting love and wanting to offer love, but what it captures most is the experience of falling short while reaching for it. Martin conveys a sense of disorder and dissolution on When The City Fell, and again on When The City Fell (Again), its dancey remix. Some of the album’s highlights take us fancifully away from Toronto: Hawaii is delightfully hooky, jumping back to memories of reinvention and escape, while on Galore, Martin pulls off something Kate Bushishly theatrical and epic.
Top track: Hawaii
Selina Martin plays the Monarch Tavern March 25. See listing.