The songs on Jaymie Valentine’s latest, Revamped, date back a decade-and-a-half, prior even to her first album as Cindergarden; as such, she has rerecorded them, putting a modern stamp on previously unreleased work that remains musically and emotionally relevant. This album is released simply under her own name, in keeping with songs that feel more intimate and personal – and perhaps less conceptual – than many of her prior releases. The maturity and musical accomplishment on display here highlights both how much she’s grown as an arranger and producer and how solid her songwriting has always been. While the album as a whole retains what has become Valentine’s signature sound – a mixture of crystalline synths, layered vocals, and evocative pianos and harpsichords – there’s an impressive variety of sound here, from classic darkwave to swirly neo-Victorian goth to moody trip-hop. After “Without Flesh” kicks things off with a smoky Middle Eastern tribal rhythm, songs like “Never Say” and “Precious” retain that sense of groove, restrained in tempo but beat-focused enough to dance to in a fog-drenched goth club. Similarly, “Worried Mind” borders on electro/industrial while still retaining a sense of moody languor. Balancing out the ominous rhythmic tension are dreamier, sensuous moments like the classically ethereal “Starbright,” the dreamy to the point of dizzying “Bitter,” and the standout “Glow,” which is replete with multilayered vocal effects and reverb-drenched sighs and surprised gasps amid evocative vampire and witch imagery, but without devolving into camp. As an artist and performer, Valentine has developed a reputation for the conceptual, so Revamped marks an intriguing detour into more personal, understated work that nonetheless retains the electronic otherworldly atmosphere of her work as Cindergarden.
Jaymie Valentine/Looking Glass Records
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Matthew Johnson (infinitywaltz)