Sometimes haunting, sometimes uplifting, always intoxicating, the new album from Canadian singer/songwriter/producer/creative iamhill is a heady after-dark soundtrack to life under streetlights as much as under shooting stars.
Across eight tracks of dreamily-constructed electronica, Give It A Rest fuses elements of future bass, trap and r&b into a singular blend of glacial soul cut with undeniable pop hooks, occupying a similar ballpark to the likes of Lorde. iamhill’s mesmerising voice ties the record together, taking the lead on the gentle embrace of ‘Beckon (Run)’ – where warm synths swirl and dive around thick bass frequencies – and delivering one of the most memorable melodies on the record on the transcendent ‘Weak’.
The lazy vocal flows on ‘On Camera’ complement the liquefied trap of the instrumentation for a seductive track which more than earned its release as a single, and there are more hi-hat rolls to be found on the momentous ‘Taste’, where stinking kick drums ratchet up the sense of drama and occasion, and the dreamscape ‘Slide’. The music is never just a platform for the vocals, though; the production is pushed to its limits on the cosmic ‘Fragile’, where vocals echo around stardust synthesisers, and the live-sounding drums on ‘Mine’ set the track apart from the rest of the album, a ruby set into a crown of emeralds.
By comparison to much of the rest of the record, opener and lead track ‘Give It A Rest’ is a taught, claustrophobic affair – the bassline rasping rather than swooping, the melodic hooks urgent not expansive, and even the vocals clipped and stripped of some of their softness. The song came together in one night as iamhill, real name Brenna MacQuarrie, rushed to capture the beat which appeared in her head as she drove home and, in the best way possible, you can tell. This, then, is the album’s diamond, and one not quite fully polished at that. But the peaks of its rawness are all the more effective when they jump out of the rounded depths elsewhere. “Hit hard, aim true,” sings iamhill on ‘On Camera’ – she has done both on this remarkable record, which you owe it to yourself to listen to as soon as possible.
Words - Joe Ponting