As the clanging keyboard chords that open ‘The Road’ ring out like sinister church bells, it’s clear that Canadian composer and songwriter Lydia Ainsworth’s second album is going to be something very special indeed. Following a spate of recent pop culture nods to a hip new activism-based kind of witchcraft – indie movie The Love Witch and Lana Del Rey’s anti-Trump spell for starters – this seems to be the sound of lush electronic pop throwing its pointy hat into the ring.
“Astral mirrors guide the fall /Let’s go on and on and on once more,” murmurs Ainsworth, oozing sensuality, strength and supernatural sass over dark, unctuous beats. There are hints of Bat For Lashes’ gloom and Chvrches’ wondrous way with a synth-driven melody here, but Ainsworth’s voice is indelibly her own. ‘Afterglow’ plugs into the same moody, mystical vibe, while lyrics about “the queen of angels” pitch this as a deeply female record, one that carries with it a womanly warmth.
Classically trained, the breadth of Ainsworth’s talent is laid bare on ‘Darling Of The Afterglow’. As well as towering gothic electropop, we also get stone cold bangers like ‘Open Doors’. Boasting a majestic, beat-driven chorus that sounds like Katy Perry guesting on a Yeasayer track, it’s a luxuriantly produced track, full of breathy glitches, velvety violins and layer upon layer of intrigue. If you’re looking for a song to get utterly lost in this spring, then your search has come to an end.
The same goes for the meditative but massive ‘Into The Blue’, which has steamy hints of The Weeknd, while ‘Spinning’ comes over like Kate Bush after pulling an all-nighter at the Warehouse Project. If anything, an aching cover of Chris Isaak’s 1990 ‘Wicked Game’ – however beautiful – seems a touch unnecessary, muddling Ainsworth’s own vision with someone else’s words and melody. Lydia Ainsworth has more than enough talent not to bother with other people’s material.