Nineteen-year-old Aurora Aksnes, or AURORA, just released the highly anticipated follow up to her 2015 EP, Running With The Wolves. The Norwegian artist garnered critical acclaim following her EP release, gaining the attention of major labels, music critics, and even Katy Perry.
The new 12-track full length album, All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend, depicts a raw, real, and beautiful emotional journey with moments both of extreme power and unhindered vulnerability. The album begins with the delicate number “Runaway” which channels a soft power, somewhere between Florence Welch and Joni Mitchell. It’s a compelling start; a gentle synthpop number about a girl begging to go home – the only place where she belongs, or just the only place left to go.
From there, the track feeds straight into “Conqueror,” one of the album’s real jams. It channels a Lily Allen meets Regina Spektor energy – bubbly and positive but also demanding. The song bursts explosively into a repetitive chorus about feeling a-la-la-live which gives the album a kick of energy which lasts through all twelve tracks. “Warrior” is another one of the album’s few upbeat moments, though it opens with the lyric “I fall asleep in my own tears.” It’s certainly not positive, but it’s vulnerable and that power feels very real and authentic. The chorus echoes a very self-love inspired message – “let love conquer your mind, warrior.”
If there’s a theme to this album, it’s life – celebrating it and embracing it. AURORA, on “Winter Bird” coos the lonely line “all I need is to remember how it was to feel alive,” which is followed up in “I Went To Far” by a Sheeran-style “give me some love and hold me.” One of the highlights of the album is the album’s third single “Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2 ,1)” which glides along Agnes Obel-style in a smooth, synthy minor (plus, could that title be any more aligned with this life and death motif??). The track sees Sia-level moments of sulky mood power, but then bursts straight back into a light pop bounce to bring up the energy.
The album’s deluxe edition features “Nature Boy (Acoustic)” which feels like it was pulled straight off of the Sweeney Todd cutting room floor. It’s at a Frank Ocean level of melodic genius, exploring uniquely haunting sonic patterns with the aid of only a cello and guitar. The storytelling is stirring – keeping your attention while also lulling you into a sort of calm hypnosis, Sigur Ros style.
AURORA’s release packs a moody, but unexpectedly positive punch, throwing her amidst a sea of artists who do the same. The uniqueness, for AURORA, comes not in the sound, but in the message – a somber look at life veiled with a thin frosting of optimism.