If Edith Piaf had been born in 1980s Brooklyn, she would probably sound something like Eddi Front. Formerly known as Ivana XL, Front’s debut LP Marina is a complex, whimsical album recalling songstresses like Cat Power or Tanya Donnelly: ultra-feminine yet also incredibly powerful. Front’s voice drifts over twinkling piano and delicate acoustic guitars to achieve an effect that is both husky and dreamlike.
Lead single Goldie opens the album, a solemn, almost elegiacal piano ballad. “Picking up the dress to knock you out/This will be our last meeting,” Front murmurs, her voice multi-layered and a discordant distortion chiming in the background. From there, the album becomes even darker and more personal, almost disturbingly so. Lilting single Elevator is particularly beautiful, seeing Front admitting to “just curling up in my mattress springs” over music-box piano melodies, while Gigantic is almost painfully autobiographical in describing a difficult breakup (“I remove the books/Stacked on the bed/Where your legs used to rest”). Having previously avoided studio recordings, Front spent her formative musical years working in a stripped back, self-recording environment, which is very evident in the raw, almost ambient quality of the tracks.
It’s impossible not to be enchanted by this album. Front’s lyrics read like straight-up poetry, her melodies clearly influenced by classical music and yet updated with grungey riot-girl style attitude. Free of overwrought electronic effects or gimmicky flourishes, Front allows herself to channel an authentic sound which is somehow both timeless and utterly nostalgic. Marina is a bittersweet, timeless record which practically dares its listeners not to swoon.