Willolux, the stage name of Vancouver’s Kristina Emmott, has a lot to untangle on her debut full-length Thread & Tape. Over the course of these nine songs, she has her share of hurt to work through, searching for ways to straighten out the knots of her emotions and relationships, as if they were a stuck-together ball of tape, or a mess of tangled Christmas lights. Fortunately for the process, Emmott has an uncommon knack for a well-arranged song, and has some excellent production assistance from by Jon Anderson (Andy Shauf, Aidan Knight, Twin Bandit).
“I Remain” opens the album following the path of an ascending and descending guitar riff. It paints a picture of an drab existence, like being stuck in black and white while everything all around you is bursting into vibrant colours. This song makes great use of dynamics, where after a few tender verse and choruses, it soars into a bridge and guitar solo, quiets down, and ends back in a multi-voiced chorus.
Most tracks here are similarly packed with multiple vocal hooks. “Cedar and Fir” and “The Salt” are the album’s acoustic ballads, backwards looking yet trying to find a positive way forward at the same time. “Sweet Spot” is a great little pocket symphony. The scene is a serene riverbank, which “turns all my faults and all I lack into nothing”. It’s a great hymn to the restorative power of nature. Most bands would need to get all their friends together to get the effect of the “Ooh ooh”s on this song, but Emmott is able to carry them off all by herself.
Elsewhere, “Modern Day Maestro” is a rockier song about digital vanity that’s sort of like a flipped version of Elliott Smith’s “Pictures Of Me”. Instead of being sick of being photographed, this song’s subjects are “dying to know who’s looking at you.” The album ends on “Clotho”, cleverly referencing the Greek Mythological figure responsible for spinning the thread that makes up a human lifetime. A nocturnal toned piano dirge, it ponders the inevitability and attraction of death. Heavy stuff, but subtly and sublimely performed, it leaves knots in your chest that you won’t soon untangle.
Thread & Tape will be released June 23rd.
Top Tracks: “I Remain”; “Sweet Spot”; “Clotho”
Rating: Hunting Call (Excellent) + *swoop*