Louise Burns – The Midnight Mass

todaySeptember 26, 2013 30

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Louise Burns – The Midnight Mass
Louise Burns
Album Title: The Midnight Mass
Label: Light Organ Records
Release Date: July 9th, 2013

 Louise Burns, from Vancouver, British Columbia, clearly has a flair for darkness. On The Midnight Mass, her second album, Burns melds dream pop with gothed-out 80’s post-punk influences; think Beach House cross-bred with early Cocteau Twins, simultaneously lush and skeletal. While the music is comfortably familiar, Burns’ voice sets her apart from her peers. Her work on “Ruby” impressively demonstrates the breadth of her talent: her strong, clear midrange boosts the thrill of the chorus, while on the bridge she explores her lower register beautifully, dipping to the lowest notes of her range in a voice equally wispy and full. Burns’ voice works in virtually any setting, whether alone and unadorned or layered and harmonized with itself. Her delivery is always palpably confident and comfortable, neither over- nor understated, proving Burns to be an uncommonly good singer.

 While The Midnight Mass explicitly espouses darkness, from its title to its darkwave indebted production, Burns balances its gloomy esthetic with a strong pop sensibility. Album highlights like “Emerald’s Shatter” and “I Don’t Like Sunny Days” feature immediately grabbing hooks that linger long after the song ends. “Sunny Days” in particular embodies the album’s best qualities: though its lyrics linger on the dissolution of love, its infectious melody ultimately renders the song uplifting rather than depressing. Not all of the songs are as successful; a handful of them aren’t particularly memorable, but there are more hits here than misses. A majority of the songs on The Midnight Mass are strong enough to demand repeated listenings, making the album a rewarding sophomore effort from a compelling new voice. Louise Burns is already a skilled and distinctive artist, and if she continues to develop her songwriting, she may soon prove to be unstoppable.

Reviewed by John McAlmon

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