The Golden Record
Where the hell did Little Scream come from? And where can we get more? Laurel Sprengelmeyer's debut album, The Golden Record, has been in the works since 2007, but the time the Montreal artist spent crafting her sound with producer Richard Reed Parry (of Arcade Fire and Bell Orchestre) really paid off. The Golden Record is a frank and gorgeous concentration of soul, and a fiercely exquisite indie album.
Diverse, swelling instrumentation buoys Sprengelmeyer's subtle vocal harmonies throughout, and most tracks feature dynamic fingerpicking on electric or acoustic guitar. Songs like "Cannons"and "Your Radio"have the building, anthemic quality of the best Arcade Fire tracks, and the similarities makes sense—Arcade Fire's Sarah Neufield also contributed to the album. But Arcade Fire aren't the only heavy-hitters with notable guest spots on The Golden Record. The National's Aaron Dessner plays guitar on "The Heron and the Fox,"a gentle, folky tune that quickly conjures up Joni Mitchell nostalgia in the way Sprengelmeyer jumps and glides through her upper register. "Guyegaros"takes cues from bad-ass blues and grunge to create a wandering-through-the-desert type of soundscape, and Sprengelmeyer drops the lilting folk vocals for a more gritty, Patti Smith-type of spoken word-song. Immediately following is "Boatman,"a track that transitions from a plucky classical melody on piano to a joyous expansion of symphonic grunge. It's a rare feat, now more than ever before, to find an album without duds, but that's exactly what The Golden Record is: a standout album full of standout tracks.