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Album Review: AURORA – What Happened to the Heart?

3 min read
Album Review: AURORA - What Happened to the Heart?

With her unique styling and ethereal voice AURORA is one of the most unique figures in pop. The Norwegian singer-songwriter has made a name for herself with dreamy electro-pop and emotionally driven lyrics. And there are plenty of both in their most recent album What Happened to the Heart?.

The album opens with Echo of My Shadow, a dreamy track about impermanence and being at one with nature. With atmospheric production and AURORA’s trademark falsetto vocals, it sets a strong tone for the album one both meditative and hopeful. To be Alright continues this, as AURORA asks “How can you say I love too much?”. The use of a dance beat in this song increases the energy while keeping the thoughtful tone.

The production is the standout in Conflict of the Mind, making the vocals sound most distant as if being played on an old-style radio. It continues to shine in Some Type of Skin, with powerful layer vocals lending extra importance to the overwrought stylings of the chorus. The rage in the song informs the next two. The Essence seems to fluctuate between anger and fear as the lyrics begin to doubt.

This is brought even more to the forefront at the album’s midpoint, as it reaches its darkest point in The Dark Dresses Lightly. With the production taking on almost metal-inspired sounds, the repetitive drumline and darker lyrics give the song a more hopeless tone, even as the vocals seem more angelic.

The tone takes an uptick in the second half. A Soul with No King is a lighter folky fantasy style track, with the vocals and lyrics almost drowned out by the instrumentals. While Dreams gives AURORA another chance to show off the high end of her voice, with a suitable dreamy sound. My Name is a return to the meditative feel, in perhaps the most personal number, as AURORA reckons with endings asking “Will you forget I was here?”. Leaving it ambiguous if she speaking to a lover or the world at large.

Do you Feel? is a more electric-inspired rack on the dance line, the repeated lyric “never give up on love” could be described as the thesis of the album. And it seems to inform the songs that follow. Especially Starvation which uses raw vocals and lyrics to talk about a hunger for love. The Blade uses a mumbled frantic style that makes its appearance that makes places all the more impactful. The frantic energy reaches a peak as the album closes. This energy continues in The Body is not Mine, with the song’s uses of electric production and voice changers allowing it to reach a frenetic peak.

All this is brought to a close in Invisible Wounds, which brings a slow and peaceful change of pace. AURORA talks about needing to tend to wounds, both emotional and physical. After the powerful emotive nature of the previous tracks, it is a much-needed reckoning with the themes of the album.

AURORA described the process of writing the album as cathartic, and the listening experience is much the same. Her feelings of anger and grief permeate the songs, always accompanied by a sense of hope for the future and a desire for change. The emotive honesty is what gives the album its power and makes it one of the year’s most memorable.