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Image: Dasser Kamran/Fulcrum.
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Each week we take a look at hot new releases and new-to-us favourites

Single of the Week: “Float” by Cariss Auburn – 4.5/5

“Float” is a track that blends ‘90s pop and R&B influences. Cariss Auburn’s light and crisp vocals are contrasted by deep synth instrumentals, achieving an ebb and flow effect by the reverberation of the instrumentals and the repetition of the verses, “Oh you move just like a wave / And I’m pushed and pulled away.”

“Float” is Auburn’s first single of the year and her fourth single released in total so far. The U.K.-based artist also released Unphased, an EP, in 2016. While she has moved from the ‘80s pop and funk influences of tracks like “Oil on Water” and “Unphased,” her songs still maintain an almost dreamlike quality. In “Float,” that  effect is achieved mainly through the layering and blurring together of vocals as she details the push and pull of a past relationship.

Album of the Week: Crying in Cars by Emily Rowed – 3/5

In her EP Crying in Cars, Emily Rowed recounts the end of a relationship, from the realization that it’s going to end to the sorrow felt when it’s over. This is the Vancouver-based artist’s third EP, with seven tracks for a total duration of 23 minutes.

“Shipwreck” opens the EP, setting the tone for the rest of the album. Rowed’s vocals are accompanied by piano in this stripped-down song, laying bare her fears of being stuck in a disastrous relationship. The following tracks introduce more instruments, taking on a more orchestral sound.

A cover of the Goo Goo Dolls’ “Iris” closes out the EP, again in a stripped-down style, with piano, guitar, and strings subtly backing the vocals.

The instrumentals build progressively over the course of the EP, gradually incorporating more elements as it goes on and eventually culminates to the soaring instrumentals of “Let Me Hurt.” The emotionally charged vocals on this track are the strongest on the EP; it would have been interesting had more tracks experimented with this style.

The songwriting and the vocals are the strongest elements of the EP, delivering on the emotions promised by the title. However, it feels like there’s something missing – like Rowed played it safe musically. If you are looking for an introspective EP that explores sorrow and healing, Crying in Cars is worth a listen.

Discovery of the Week: Klô Pelgag

Over the break, I had the chance to listen to Notre-Dame-des-Sept-Douleurs, Klô Pelgag’s album, from start to finish. This francophone baroque-pop album, the fourth released by the Montreal-based artist, contains 12 songs, and is around 40 minutes long. 

Since its release in the fall of 2020, this album has caught the attention of English-speaking critics, giving the album generally favorable reviews. From poetic lyrics to rich, extravagant instrumentals, my appreciation for this album grows with each listen.

The tone and style of each track is varied, the common thread between the songs being limited to imagery and themes explored by Pelgag. The title of the album, Our-Lady-of-Seven-Sorrows (in English), evokes loss, pain, hope, and healing notions Pelgag explores and develops in her song writing.

“Soleil” emphasizes the depth of Pelgag’s songwriting, with vocals backed by soulful brass horns. This track is intimate and tender as she fondly recounts the memories she has of her childhood friend who passed away.

“Umami” opens with airy vocalizations and an upbeat bass, grounding the first part of the song. Pelgag sings of an adventure she hopes to take. The listener is invited to take off as well, as they’re invited into the story Pellag creates. Then, the song takes on a dreamlike quality; she finally takes off, her vocals floating on airy, droning instrumentals.