By Maria Lubanovic, Copy Editor
Key tracks: “No One’s Easy to Love”, “Jupiter 4”, “Seventeen”
Taking time to act in a TV show and raise her young son, Sharon Van Etten’s been off the radar for four years. Fittingly, Van Etten’s fifth album, Remind Me Tomorrow, brings sonic maturity with its messages of growth and emotional change.
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This album is wildly different from her past work, with smooth synth sound and a more polished finished product. This is a huge jump from her early work, which was much more reliant on guitar and a relaxed acoustic sound. From the first track, it’s a move in a new direction that powers the rest of the album.
One of the album’s biggest themes is the exploration of different types of love. “I Told You Everything”, a swirling, conceptual piano reflection of opening up to another person as synth buzzes and beats underneath, shows love in the form of openness, while “No One’s Easy To Love” carries a grimier tone as Van Etten admits of her resistance to let someone back into her life who blames her for his pain and suffering. The bass grinds, but a synth line gently arpeggios overhead as she tells her story.
“Comeback Kid” carries a similar weight with beaming synth, focusing on what it’s like to return home after a long time away. The track is danceable and crashes with climatic drum beats around the bridge as Van Etten explains she wants to stay but has to leave and that she really isn’t trying to run away.
One of the album’s standout tracks is “Jupiter 4”, a five-minute song that lands in the center of the album. The track focuses on the search for love over a wobbly synth undertone while a spacy melody plays. Van Etten’s transition between higher and lower tones echo this as she sings “It’s true that everyone would like to have met / A love so real.”
“Seventeen” and “Malibu” are two of a kind, both reminiscing on experiences that Van Etten had in specific locations. “Seventeen” is about her time in New York City, complete with squealing synth and deep and brassy electric guitar. She wails as she compares the freedom of her youth to another young kid who is so much like her. “Malibu” was written about her travels with her partner. This track includes a short, true story, something Van Etten admitted that she doesn’t frequently do.
Through this album, Van Etten is easily able to move between heavy moments and lighter themes. “Hands” and “Stay” end the album in two very different ways, with the former about holding the person you love over a churning instrumental track and the latter much softer and fluid as she sings about her love for her son, which is inherently different from the love she has for her partners. It’s a perfect closer that shows a true depth to love, something that is hard to promise to anyone else.
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