Alison Moyet has perhaps the best first track off an album that I’ve heard all year. With Other, her ninth studio album, Moyet gives us a beautifully crafted electropop album. The dark and theatrical synths complement Moyet’s deep contralto, one of the most identifiable features of the album. It’s obvious that Moyet has plenty of experience as a singer-songwriter, because each song feels perfectly tailored to HER. This is an album that only someone like Moyet could make and she executes it in a seamless fashion.
And, as I said, Other has the best first track I’ve heard all year. “I Germinate” is such an amazingly strong start to the album. It starts off strong, with Moyet’s voice backed up by ethereal synths, a chaotic mess of sound that smooths out into a dark, rhythmic pulse. The swap from minimalist to frantic is executed perfectly. The chorus is downright operatic as swooping harpsichord synths accompany the refrain: “I’m here / I germinate.” It’s a song to set an over the top action sequence to and, most importantly, it realizes that. Moyet is not afraid to go full tilt theater kid, giving us songs that are beautifully dramatic and amazingly over the top. There’s nothing subtle about this album but, at the same time, Moyet effortlessly shows restraint and just stops right before overpowering. Other is loud, bombastic, impressive and theatrical, but stops short of overwhelming.
Other refuses to be pigeonholed. Moyet doesn’t stick to one genre, instead trying different styles and interpretations for each song. The end result is unified, but unexpected: you don’t know what you’re getting with each song. One stand-out is “April 10.” Perhaps the most unexpected song on the album, “April 10” consists of a spoken-word vocal line over the same dark, synth backing. It’s more avant-garde or experimental electronica than the rest of the album, calling to artists like ONUKA or Grace Jones. And yet, it fits wonderfully. “April 10” throws you out of your comfort zone, but still feels like a unified piece of the album. The song thankfully stays on the right line of pretension. It’s obvious that a spoken-word electronica piece could be pretentious as heck, but the context of the album saves it from that fate.
Despite the fact that the album is very imposing with a darker than expected tone, Moyet isn’t afraid to have fun. “The English U” plays with grammar rules and cute puns (u/you) to create a charming love song that builds up to a downright divine harpsichord section. “Happy Giddy” does exactly what the title promises, injecting a much needed dose of pep to keep the album from droning on and giving the listener a boost of energy before the end. These brief moments of lightness keep the album from feeling too heavy, relieving Other’s tension for just a moment before the next song delves right back in.
I really can’t overstate what an amazing album Other is. It is very electronic and eschews things like a conventional vocal or instrumental structure, which I imagine will be off-putting to some. Moyet isn’t afraid to get dark and happily embraces tension, something which can be a little off-putting to a casual listener. But for those who enjoy that sort of music, or anyone who enjoys stepping out of your comfort zone in general? Give Other a listen. I’ve a feeling you’ll like it.