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Sharon van Etten - Remind Me Tomorrow - cd -

Price per Unit (stuk): €17.95

Sharon Van Etten returns at the time of year meant for streamlining: Kondo-ing your frazzled mind, dysfunctional relationships, and sloppy habits into one efficient machine. Remind Me Tomorrow is not a product of this mindset. Just look at the mess on the cover: a tiny photograph of Van Etten barely visible amid the chaos of a kid’s bedroom. It’s an album made after she thought she had let music go for a while, until it crept back in as a reliable constant while she started acting and scoring films, studied for a degree in psychology, embraced a fulfilling relationship, and became a parent. A lesser artist would find a cheap fulfillment narrative in all this. Van Etten characterizes these complicated pleasures as a tempest, and it feels true.

It’s her first album made with John Congleton, a producer many acts have turned to in recent years under the guise of wanting to mimic his art-pop work with St. Vincent—a noble but futile game. That is, thankfully, not the case here; nor is it that Van Etten, tired of the guitar, just threw a few synths at the wall. Remind Me Tomorrow is as much a faithful reimagining of her muscular songwriting as last year’s Double Negative was of Low’s haunted spirituals, right down to the shared apocalyptic atmosphere. Corroded synths flicker like a helicopter rotor, cutting her characteristic grace with a sense of menace; the production and Van Etten herself often sound as though they’re asphyxiating. The aggressive sound meets its match in her cresting, torrid sense of melody.

More than ever, it’s these uneasy textures that do Van Etten’s storytelling for her. An abusive relationship she experienced in her early 20s has defined much of her songwriting to date, so much so that it started making her feel uncomfortable. “It’s cathartic to play, and people like it,” she told The Ringer of one old song, “but I also want to challenge people on why they like it, and how it makes me feel.” Remind Me Tomorrow starts with a disclosure, “I Told You Everything.” “You said, ‘Holy shit, you almost died,’” she sings, repeating the line throughout the song and peeling back layer by layer of shock factor until only sad starkness remains. The exchange forms the start of a relationship: held hands, knocked knees, total candor. Crucially, we never find out what she tells him. The restraint is more of a revelation than another addition to the grim details that litter her catalog, explaining everything about Van Etten’s hard-won control over her life.

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