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Reflecting on the aftermath of a psychologically unhealthy relationship, Alexandra Savior’s sophomore album delves into themes of heartbreak, isolatio,n and disappointment.

Her retro-futurist, B-movie-inspired sound is one that calls to mind images of dust filled theatres and abandoned studio lots. The world Savior creates is lush, but underpinned by a sense of decay, and her ethereal vocals lend a dreamlike haziness to the album.

In ‘Saving Grace’, twangy, Spaghetti Western-style guitars intertwine with Savior’s haunting, swooping voice to create a shimmering mirage of sound. This mesmerising sonic panorama is imbued with a sense of foreboding as she sings: ‘I'm waiting here for the lioness to come / And have a feast.’

Much of the album is similarly cinematic. Recalling the sound of vintage Hollywood, But You’ wouldn’t be out of place on a Bond soundtrack, with Savior’s sultry croon accompanied by a slick orchestral arrangement. Here, there is an aura of faraway mystery, although the lyrics depict scenes of despondency rather than decadence: ‘The wilted edge of a lonesome mattress / I lay my head there until the feeling passes / It's sinking in just as time relapses.’

"... it’s like the soundtrack to a dystopian nightclub"

With their filmic feel, tracks like this could risk veering into insincere melodrama, but there is a consistent sense of control which keeps the emotional truth in the album in focus. Savior’s vocals tend to be cool rather than overly emotive, creating the impression of someone taking charge of the narrative.

One of the strongest tracks of the album is the darkly beautiful ‘Howl’. With its ominous sci-fi synths, snaking bassline, and ghostly, echoing chorus, it’s like the soundtrack to a dystopian nightclub. Here, Savior describes an emotionally abusive relationship with self-possessed candour as she sings: ‘Handsome dictator of my crimes / I can’t tell if they’re yours, I can’t tell if they’re mine.’

These themes are explored further on ‘Bad Disease’, which is film noir-esque in terms of both sound and imagery. Savior inverts the femme fatale stereotype by applying its tropes to a man: a seductively dangerous lover with ‘spider silk hands’ and ‘a knack for spitting blood over red lipstick stains.’ The plot here is one of manipulation, with Savior reminding us that outward appearances can belie a venomous, toxic nature.

"She seems to be reflecting not only on her lost love, but also on the loss of herself to the relationship."

My only complaint is that, in (very few) places, the lyrics are a little clichéd. The chorus of ‘Can’t Help Myself’ feels fairly formulaic: ‘Oh, oh, I can't help myself / Something comes over me / Baby, whenever you are around.’

However, Savior deploys stock-footage scenes of despair with skill, combining them with experimental instrumentation - presenting seemingly familiar subject matter through an unusual lens to give her lyrics substance.


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‘Crying All the Time’ is a prime example of this. Without listening too closely, this song seems like a standard depiction of heartbreak: ‘And now he’s gone, so I’m crying all the time’. But, in reality, Savior alludes to deeper themes as she sings: ‘My death, it haunts him like a ship / Without a sail / I know I'll be gone soon / But just for him, I will prevail.’ She seems to be reflecting not only on her lost love, but also on the loss of herself to the relationship.

Over the course of ten tracks, Savior demonstrates emotional and musical maturity. Credit should be given to those who have helped her realise her vision, notably her producer Sam Cohen, but the voice which shines through is distinctly Savior’s own. This is an album with both style and substance.

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