Agnes Obel – Philharmonics Album Review

Thanks to sustaining crisp production throughout her latest record, Philharmonics, Agnes Obel sounds like a faerie whispering sweet nothings — and occasional sour musings — into your ear. Philharmonics is pleasant enough, but more than that, it’s patient — trumping along in a way that savors its own angelic purity, without all the trappings of naiveté. Here is a soundtrack for waltzing through a field of wild flowers, while somehow managing not to trample upon any of them.

Listen to “Brother Sparrow” – DOWNLOAD MP3

The appreciation or non-appreciation of Obel’s music can be found in the listener’s willingness or unwillingness to savor the small things. In passing, each track may take on the same qualities, and the fast-paced listener-dancer may foolishly overlook the brightly-colored clusters of flowering notes, writing them off as mere clones of one another. After all, what could an album that is almost exclusively centered around vocals and singular piano keys really offer? A bit, it seems, if the mood is right, and ripe. Each singular piano key or variation on Obel’s voice takes on its own unique coloration and sheen on Philharmonics , contributing to a rich, pleasurable creation that sometimes inhabits the world of Elliot Smith and sometimes that of the Virgin Suicides soundtrack.

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Vivian Hua 華婷婷

Vivian Hua 華婷婷 (they/she) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer. As the Executive Director of Northwest Film Forum in Seattle and Editor-in-Chief of the interdisciplinary arts publication, REDEFINE, much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. Vivian regularly shares human-centered stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE! In 2021, they will begin production on a BIPOC metaphysical comedy film entitled RECKLESS SPIRITS. They are passionate about cultural spaces, sustainable practices, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. YEAH!

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Written by Vivian Hua 華婷婷
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