As Harley Quinns, Donald Trumps and Hilary Clintons will most likely begin to trickle down the streets this Halloween weekend, there couldn’t be a more perfect album to close the month of October. Singer and songwriter Agnes Obel is back with another round of creative symphonic tracks on her latest album Citizen Of Glass.
So why does this album complement the month of pumpkin spice? Citizen Of Glass does an uncanny job of creating an atmosphere of mystery—not one of eeriness but of dark curiosity. Of course it would be wrong to compare this album to a Halloween standard like Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Citizen Of Glass is one of those albums that really takes listeners into a whole new dimension, creating one of those zone out, mouth open situations. To create a visual description of the overall album, it would be best to describe it as similar to the atmosphere created in Tim Burton’s Alice In Wonderland. It’s a world of mysterious chaos that isn’t quite spooky or creepy but just full of veiled wonder—in this case, new to the ear.
The album starts off full of suspense with “Stretch Your Eyes,” which is a long musical introduction accompanied by subtle percussion. The number gradually builds up with the lower range of strings along with what sounds like guitar picking. Ringing church bells start off “Familiar,” a track where Obel is joined by lower vocals chiming in at varied times, creating an interesting and playful chorus ensemble. A full instrumental track in which Obel is very skilled at producing, “Red Virgin Soil,” features low bass picking accompanied with a violin-based melody.
Bringing a lighter tone to the album is “It’s Happening Again,” a piano ballad that’s easier on the ears during repeat listens. Showing off the higher end of her wide vocal range, “Stone” is a graceful number accompanied by soft harp picking. “Trojan Horses” leaves the listener to anticipate another dark track, but the main chorus brings a mix of sounds with angelic choir singing and sharp violin stringing. This contrast is further fueled with a percussion mix and vocal style variety, making this number an interesting listen. With a xylophone intro, “Golden Green” creates almost an Christmas-like choir feel while maintaining an enigmatic vibe. “Grasshopper” is a simple instrumental number featuring short and choppy piano chords accompanied by strings that depict the insect very well.
The album title Glass Of Citizen fits with this release, as the album embraces its glassy feel in all tracks. Her work is truly authentic, however it may take a certain set of ears to enjoy the album on repeat. With such talent for composing stylistic symphonic tracks, Obel’s creations could complement a mystery or suspense film wonderfully. Perhaps one day Obel’s talent for composing instrumental tracks could be put forth into another branch of music for which they would fit well: film soundtracks.