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Aurora - The Gods We Can Touch (Album Review)

Wednesday, 26 January 2022 Written by Jacob Brookman

Aurora’s third studio album is a hugely diverse 15-track Scandi epic that travels through a wintry multiverse, flanked by synthesisers, drum patches and alphorns. And while the songwriting and production do not always hit their marks, ‘The Gods We Can Touch’ demonstrates a degree of imagination and generic dexterity that is often lacking in mainstream pop.

To recap, the Norwegian art-popper first came to UK attention when her breathy cover of Oasis’s Half the World Away was featured on a John Lewis Christmas commercial in 2015. It’s the kind of recording that has since become a sickly pastiche: a contrived, faded version of authenticity and emotional connection, loved by advertising executives who hope that lightning will strike in the same place for the 100th time. Or the 1000th. Or, maybe, the song wasn’t that good in the first place.

Thankfully, there is little of that sort of thing here. Instead Aurora soars through EDM on Cure for Me, digital chamber pop on Heathens and mountain-Morricone on Blood in the Wine.

Some attempts at shapeshifting are more successful than others, with the latter track darting between cinematic samples and nimble chord changes with great elan. The driving synths of A Temporary High are also memorable. 

Elsewhere, tracks are hostages to fortune. This Could Be A Dream is a likeable but pedestrian ballad, while closer A Little Place Called the Moon feels like it should be on firm ground as Nordic mountain music, but lacks the icy dynamism of similar work by Lykke Li or Susanne Sundfør. 

There is also a bit of an identity crisis here. Alongside the John Lewis TV spot, Aurora has also featured on the Frozen 2 soundtrack and become a TikTok superstar, bringing her an absolutely huge audience that may or may not be terribly interested in complicated, avante-garde pop music. The question of what kind of recording artist we are dealing with is far less clear than with her genre peers such as Robyn, Sigrid or the aforementioned Lykke Li.

There is a lot of solid work on ‘The Gods We Can Touch’ but there is also a lot of exceptional Scandinavian pop out there, and the lack of thematic cogency here makes it feel more like a playlist than a definitive artwork. Aurora is trying to cover every base and the result is a record that feels like it is hedging its bets.

Aurora Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Sun March 27 2022 - BIRMINGHAM Town Hall
Mon March 28 2022 - NEWCASTLE Newcastle University Students Union
Tue March 29 2022 - GLASGOW SWG3
Thu March 31 2022 - DUBLIN Olympia Theatre
Fri April 01 2022 - MANCHESTER Albert Hall
Sun April 03 2022 - LEEDS O2 Academy Leeds
Tue April 05 2022 - BRISTOL O2 Academy Bristol
Wed April 06 2022 - LONDON O2 Academy Brixton

Compare & Buy Aurora Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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