by: Lenka

Lenka's third studio album, 2013's Shadows, is a work of rapturous, ceaselessly melodic, vintage-sounding orchestral pop that makes the most of the vocalist’s elfin croon. While Lenka's past albums showcased her knack for bubbly pop songs that tipped a hat to both '60s singer/songwriter pop and modern indie acts like Owl City and Lights, here she delves headlong into the kind of sweeping, psychedelic-tinged sound that artists like Donovan, Nick Drake, and Serge Gainsbourg recorded in the '60s and '70s. Of course, while there is certainly an older vibe to these songs, Lenka still remains a thoroughly modern artist, never falling into a retro-rut. In that sense, the album also brings to mind the work of such similarly inclined contemporaries as Diego Garcia, Beck, and Matt Costa. Cuts like "After the Winter" and "Heart to the Party" feature a precise mix of strings, horns, guitars, Wurlitzer keyboards, and various percussive instruments from glockenspiels to vibraphones, many played by Lenka herself. Recorded while Lenka was pregnant with her first child, Shadows has a hushed, lullaby quality that adds to its deeply felt and intimate nature. In fact, the track "Two Heartbeats" is built around the whooshing in utero heartbeat of her baby. Gorgeously conceived in every way, Shadows is a tiny masterpiece. ~ Matt Collar

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