As the architect of an uncanny sound—one that has since been adopted and filtered through the sieve of radio-ready electropop—SOPHIE’s productions have always felt distinctly hyperreal. But it’s only with the release of her first official LP Oil of Every Pearl’s Un-Insides that listeners get a glimpse of the soul behind SOPHIE’s saccharine narrators. With a perfected discord of heavy industrial basslines and wavering cosmic soundscapes, Oil… is simultaneously lean, shiny, and economic, while indulging in the ruminations of a dreamer toiling against a constant current.
Ditching the characteristic irony of her peers, Oil… is a portrait of radical earnestness. Nowhere is this more evident than on the album’s lead single and first track “It’s Okay To Cry,” a tender dialogue unlike anything previously released by the producer. Just as potent as her verbal declarations are the atonal levers and gears that power the sonic labor behind the album’s most electric poetry—like Hi-NRG Britney blasting from a radio submerged in alien waters.
Whether taking a light or heavy-handed approach when editing vocals, the tracks on Oil… position SOPHIE as a true diva—a songwriter who can deliver a melody to devastating effect, before retreating into voiceless chaos for minutes on end. And it’s the latter strategy that most separates Oil… from SOPHIE’s past offerings. “Infatuation” swells in its ache; “Not Okay” looks us straight in the eye and never turns away. Then on “Pretending,” SOPHIE lets go of our hands for several minutes as we navigate through a harsh aural graveyard.
With a body of work that speaks to ecstasy and efficiency, Oil… will not disappoint aficionados of SOPHIE’s earlier compositions. “Faceshopping” examines self-actualization head-on, with the chorus repeated like a nursery rhyme between squeals of detonation. SOPHIE doesn’t give notice before sending out shrapnel, but this is to be expected given her appetite for mutated drops.
As the album’s emotional climax, “Immaterial” rides the onslaught of helium distortion to the revery of positive affirmation. Despite the simplicity of the lyrics, SOPHIE applies the same shrewd reengineering to syntax as she does to vocals. After all, in SOPHIE’s world, she can “be anything I want/anyhow, any place, anywhere, anyone/any form, any shape, anyway, anything, anything I want.”
Following this track is the album’s final setting, the stormy, interstellar “Whole New World/Pretend World.” As the song comes to a close, we lose sight of SOPHIE’s narrator completely, and perhaps even SOPHIE herself as she disappears into the magnitude of her revolving realities.
In the last few moments of the album, there’s a sense of a machine starting or stopping—the sound of pulsating function or dysfunction, caressing each ear and leaving soon after. Wherever she is, and whoever she chooses to be now or in the future, Oil… hints that SOPHIE will always act with the conviction we’ve grown to expect.
“Is It Cold In The Water?”
Stream the Project below: