JULIA HOLTER – FEEL YOU
“Try to make yourself a work of art / Like me,” sang Julia Holter, the Los Angeles pop experimentalist, on her debut record – a sentiment she turned into an external mantra on the albums that followed. On Ekstasis she incorporated scenarios from writers like Virginia Wolf and Frank O’Hara into her unpretentious compositions, while Loud City Song was a metropolitan odyssey loosely based on the 1958, turn-of-the-century, Parisian musical Gigi. Holter curated fractured narratives, her songs functioning as actors in a Greek tragedy, into cohesive cabaret pieces, letting her epic antics come to life in her swarming instrumentations; she was the observant outsider of other people’s stories, creating poetic mosaics about their mysteries, her images gradually evolving into silent musicals on their own.
On ‘Feel You’ Holter returns to the stage, but this time she is the sole protagonist. She is exploring the ideals of solitude: “My first thought was / There are so many days of rain in Mexico City,” she contemplates in the first act, wondering if running away from reality is the answer – “A good reason to go / You know I love to run away from sun.” The scenery is angelic, yet simple; Holter keeps her songwriting in motion, building momentum by narrowing her focus inward, and let the punctuation of her every word rub against the breezy bounce of the music.
Where Loud City Song was the sound of figures passing by in the mist of urban chaos, ‘Feel You’ is entangled in the wilderness of the person observing the fuss. Holter is self-mythologizing about anonymity in a devastating, yet thrilling inflection comparable to that of ‘Codeine Crazy’, a devastating ode to addiction, by Atlanta rapper Future – both songs rattle off a list of possibilities to stay intoxicated by personal confinement, they both revel in internal rhymes of conflict, and they both share a climax of icy clarity. ‘Feel You’, like ‘Codeine Crazy’, is a marvel of being a small brick in a big puzzle, a patient meditation about turning yourself into a work of art and learning how to deal with the outcome. Solitude is bliss, after all.