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Album Review: Aurora – The Gods We Can Touch

4 min read
The Nordic avant-garde songstress @AURORAmusic is back with the incredible The Gods We Can Touch via @DeccaRecords . R4S writer Steven Giles reviews the album as he longingly looks at northern lights images on Instagram.

The Norwegian avant-garde songstress returns with an LP full of ethereal beauty and seductive electro-pop. Blending subtlety and toughness, Aurora’s The Gods We Can Touch is her most multifaceted record yet.

Widely known as providing the quaint cover of Oasis’ Half the World Away for John Lewis and their 2015 Christmas ad, Aurora has quietly taken the throne as Europe’s favourite eclectic popstar. The innovative artist has an output that is at times fraught and at other times precious. Whether standing up for climate change or supporting LGBTQ+ rights, the twenty-five year old is using her voice for the greater good alongside a dark electro-pop beat.

It’s easy to think that the catalyst for the singer-songwriters mainstream following was her 2015 single Runaway, which became a TikTok sensation last year (a song written by Aurora at the age of eleven – at eleven I was watching back-to-back episodes of Fresh Prince and Kenan & Kel…I regret nothing!), but if we delve into her earlier work we find an artist who was self-assured and daring from the get-go. An introverted teenager who found their extroverted sound through Scandinavian acoustics. Aurora’s exploration into Nordic-folk gained her many illustrious fans (Katy Perry and Billy Eilish to name a few) and allowed her to evolve into the ethereal muse we see today.

Aurora has stated that she rarely listens to music, revealing that it interferes with “the music in my mind all the time.” This relentless melody is expressed perfectly in The Gods We Can Touch which exhibits Aurora at her most playful. It is a more mature version of the singer, a version that is able to explore a mix of alt-pop and synthpop introspectively and stylistically. Moving away from her previous conceptual releases, Aurora focusses on the warmth and coolness found intrinsically within oneself. The Gods We Can Touch contrast of musings manages to paint a cohesive sound whilst intentionally weaving in-and-out of delicacy and roughness.

Blood in the Wine beautifully embraces the complexity of the album. Opening with a war cry reminiscent of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Blood in the Wine is made up of gentle acoustic guitar and thunderous percussion and vocals. Drums pulsate continuously, building and building into a colossus roar. Aurora’s powerful vocal performance enthuses and strengthens the listener, as if preparing for battle. The song is inspired by the complexity of faith and it is hard not to hear the religious symbolism within the lyrics. It is an intense and emotional listen.

The Gods We Can Touch features a multitude of synthpop anthems. Cure for Me stylistically plays around with avant-garde flourishes and produces an electro-driven high that verges on EDM. Having previously worked with The Chemical Brothers, Aurora’s bold dancefloor offerings have evolved into a chic and self-assured electro-driven symmetry. Cure for Me was inspired by many countries that still have legalised conversion therapy for LGBTQ+ people: “But I don’t need a cure for me / I don’t need it.” It is encouraging to see such a powerful message attached to a powerful, melodic euphoria.

The stand-out track Everything Matters (featuring the French artist Pomme) is lovingly spiritual in its catchiness. “You’re part of the dawn where the light comes from the dark,” Aurora compares her love to that of a theological beauty, hauntingly hitting high notes as she reveals how their love is intrinsic rather than inward. Heathens enchants with an irresistible vocal performance that is controlled in its wild, synthetic textures. Her soprano-like voice works to mystify as well as entice in a bewitching melody that feels as light as a feather.

There are exquisite ballads on The Gods We Can Touch, Exist for Love is Aurora at her most intimate, almost as if she is singing directly to us. Her charmingly soft and delicate vocals add to her honesty. It is an absolute pleasure to admire her powerful and gentle offerings that sail alongside the angelic orchestration of the 1920’s. Exist for Love is Auroras first love song and she beautifully channels the childlike wonder and authenticity of what being in love truly means. This Could Be a Dream is another charmingly lovely ballad, about finding strength when you have nothing left to give. The song is full of warmth; knowing you’re not alone, fighting through adversity together.

The Gods We Can Touch is a record full of sincerity and creativity. It has moments of calmness intertwined with moments of swagger. Aurora has delivered an electro-folk album that propels the listener to heights of euphoria and even greater heights of intimacy. It is a charming, bombastic LP that is absolutely worth a listen.