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When Ella Hooper from Killing Heidi joined her brother to form the acoustic folk duo, The Verses, it was considered a ‘maturing’ of her earlier rock sound. Some 15 years after it all began, Hooper is armed with her solo debut, on which a metamorphosis has occurred again so she sounds like she’s keeping company – at least stylistically – with the likes of St. Vincent and Ladyhawke. 

In Tongues sees 10 varied songs tackling personal and esoteric themes. They fit under the banner of dark, intelligent pop while also retaining a hard, spiky edge. Among the tracks are Hooper’s previous singles, Low High, Haxan and The Red Shoes, which give an indication of the enormous jumps between genres and add an edge to this smoky experiment.

The eponymous opening track manages to be dreamy, ethereal and commanding before the virtual opera of Low High. A strange, Brian Eno-like synthesiser noise is dominant here, while Love Is Hard To Kill comes across like an old, dusty 45. 

Hooper’s debut had a long gestation period and it strives to be many different things, meaning that often this baby works.

3.5 stars


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