Låpsley – Through Water – XL Recordings

“I’ve been working on myself while I’ve been away,” Holly Lapsley Fletcher sings on First, one of her second album’s prettiest songs. Indeed, having shaped her debut, 2016’s Long Way Home, in conjunction with a throng of collaborators, she’s chosen (largely) to go it alone, taking, she says, “complete ownership” of its follow-up. One thing she’s not relinquished, though, is her fondness for pitch-shifting, a habit one might consider compulsive. It’s odd she’s so committed to the trick: hers is a warm, melancholic voice which, when left to its own devices, as at the start of Ligne 3 – where she leans elegantly into the melody – doesn’t feel like something to disguise. But, apparently, “it’s not that easy letting go”, as the song’s nasal, robotic chorus advises us.

So it’s fortunate that familiarity breeds content, her practices absorbed over time into her churchlike electronica. Soon, one fails to notice her voice sliding from note to note amid First’s stuttering rhythms, or simply considers the muted Sadness Is A Shade Of Blue’s backing vocals another instrument alongside its Omnichord-like sparkles. Nonetheless, she’s at her best within Womxn’s subdued pop and on Speaking Of The End, its vulnerability unadorned and all the better for it.

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