Laurel Sprengelmeyer, aka Montreal’s Little Scream, says her sophomore album was influenced by a visit to a friend’s cult-like commune. Finding the experience both compelling and absurd, she was nevertheless struck by the “magnetism of ideas taking shape.” It’s the perfect description of this 12-song set, the follow-up to 2011’s The Golden Record.
Whereas that album was the crystallization of 10 years of songwriting, Cult Following’s lush sonic landscape never settles on a single idea. Sure, Sprengelmeyer’s artfully crafted guitar noise acts like a motif threading through each track. But it’s the album’s ambitious symphonic arrangements that give each song a kaleidoscope of sounds – from synths to cascading pianos, from wind instruments to choral sections – that build into, well, magnetic, near-overwhelming ideas in the process of taking shape.
A consistent strategy throughout is allowing tracks to bleed into each other so that Little Scream’s soundscapes, primarily created with collaborator Richard Reed Parry (Arcade Fire), feel like they’re washing over you. It’s the kind of album that resists being parsed out into singles. Aside from radio-ready lead track Love As A Weapon, the rest work together as a cohesive whole even while bouncing around lyrically.
She follows the same philosophy as Björk and Kendrick Lamar on their recent albums (Vulnicura, To Pimp A Butterfly): faith in the idea of the album as an encompassing experience, and in an audience willing to be still and listen.
Top track: Wishing Well
Little Scream plays Lee’s Palace on Thursday (May 12). See listing.