EERA: Reflection Of Youth (Big Dada)

London-based but Norwegian by birth, Anna Lena Bruland shares a label with British hip-hop royalty Roots Manuva and (the pretenders to his throne, perhaps?) Edinburgh's Young Fathers. But although she cites trip-hop pioneers Portishead as an influence, there's little common ground with the slo-mo dub and rackety sonics of either of those label-mates. Instead, this bleak, atmospheric, guitar-based set recalls Cat Power, Anna Calvi, Joan As Policewoman and the less shouty and politicised inclusions in the Riot Grrrl canon (so not Bikini Kill, then). There's even a flavour of Cocteau Twins in Bruland's compositions, particularly on the soaring Beast and on Survived, which marks Reflection Of Youth's midpoint and is in some ways its fulcrum. The off-tempo I Wanna Dance, meanwhile, has all the attack of a PJ Harvey howler, but Bruland is at her most potent when she's at her most pared back: on Christine, for example, with just a strummed electric guitar and punctuating electronic squalls to complement her double-tracked vocals and enigmatic words of love, and on 10,000 Voices, which hymns the experiences of her grandfather, a conductor with the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra in the 1960s. Never obvious, and oozing with confidence, this is a strong debut from the young Norwegian.

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