Record review: Ella Thompson – Janus (2015, LP)

ella thompson janus

Listen up, class: no talking at the back and spit out that gum. Today’s lesson incorporates history, music, a multi-talented Melburnian, and a debut album featuring one of the finest female voices in the country right now. Roman mythology 101 tells us Janus was the god of all beginnings, synonymous with doorways and the opportunities they present. He also had two faces to look towards both the past and present, and at times sported a hipster beard. All of these elements are relatable to the form and feel of Thompson’s excellent debut LP (besides the facial fuzz, obvs.); these songs build on her work with GL, Axolotl, the Bamboos and Dorsal Fins and allow her to flaunt her more-than considerable vocal talents in a solo setting. The two-headed depiction of a revered Roman is apt in that there are several styles and moods present throughout the ten tracks. New psychedelia, ‘80s synth-pop, sparse balladry, and layers of distorted, dreamy loveliness provide the backdrop to Thompson’s tuneful talents. Hazy opener ‘Drift’ and Spector-esque ‘Away Too Long’ seduce and spellbind, whereas first single ‘Arcade’ is a honey-drenched slice of synth-pop cherry pie that oozes contradiction, and things get weird on the six-minute ‘Taller’. However, it’s when Thompson gives her vocals some oomph that the song benefits most, as on second single ‘I Go Over’, much like Dorsal Fins’ excellent ‘Monday Tuesday’. This ain’t no sunny synth-pop record by any stretch, though; there’s misery in many of the lyrics (see closer ‘Losing You’), but despair has never sounded so good. With Janus, Thompson has kicked in the door of her solo career, and it’s open for business and for students of music to enjoy. Do your homework right and get on board.


For Beat

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