Album Review: Gordi – ‘Reservoir’

Moments of brilliance, but only moments.

The last three years have been “pretty full on” for Aussie songwriter Gordi, whose urbanised, ‘folktronica’ stylings have carried her around the world and into the studios of the folk music elite.

Learning directly from such icons as Bon Iver and Alex Somers (Jónsi & Alex), Gordi has collated a cross-cultural amalgam of musical and technical philosophies, blending Australian, American and Icelandic influences into a unique and progressive package.

Her debut album, Reservoir, is to be our first glimpse of the newly evolved Gordi, and features the production talents of Somers, Tim Anderson (Solange, Banks), Ben McCarthy (Alex The Astronaut) and Ali Chant (Perfume Genius, PJ Harvey).

Reservoir is engaging in its first moments, with tracks like Long Way and On My Side recalling the bouncy, pop-infused energy of Gordi’s earlier work.

All The Light We Cannot See begins in the same vein, but soon ascends into a playful refrain of marching rhythm, scattered vocal lines and swelling synthesizers, in what feels like an atmospheric homage to Sigur Ros. Though brilliant, this passage ends jarringly as we’re rushed into a final chorus.

This becomes somewhat of a running theme on Reservoir – its most inspired moments are few and far between, and feel choked by radio-friendliness.

Many of the record’s best tracks are let down in some way, such as Aeon, which features a bridge of fluttering strings and celestial vocal lines that would only have been enhanced by some room to breathe; space to sit in the atmosphere, and to savour it.

That’s not to say Gordi had failed entirely. Bitter End stands as the best and most balanced example of her intricate blending of genres; immediately captivating, with vocal ornamentation and subtle woodwind lines melding into a glittering fog that shrouds melancholic reflections on self-centred egoism.

This becomes somewhat of a running theme on Reservoir – its most inspired moments are few and far between, and have been choked by radio-friendliness.

Pace is the other major issue for Reservoir, which loses its momentum around half way. Heaven I Know feels devoid of energy, and impassioned vocoder sections, reminiscent of Justin Vernon‘s Volcano Choir, do little to elevate the track.

Although I’m Done and Myriad are decent tracks in isolation, their arrival settles the record into a dynamic lull that lasts far too long, and by the half-hour mark, Reservoir desperately needs something interesting to happen. Unfortunately, it never quite recovers.

For all of its diverse influences, Reservoir feels one dimensional and bloated with filler. Gordi has certainly demonstrated her talent as a songwriter, but fails to channel that talent consistently throughout the record. The result is a handful of brilliant moments scattered across an otherwise underwhelming journey.

It felt, at points, that the music was trying desperately to burst out of the structure of the songs, as though someone had captured these incredible compositions and stuck them in a cage of verses and choruses.

Gordi has a huge amount to offer, and once she matures into her unique style we might well see her create something ground-breaking.

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