[4 September 2014]
PopMatters Music Editor - Canada
It’s been more than a year since Toronto’s Valery Gore announced her latest LP, Idols in the Dark Heart, her first proper follow-up to 2008’s Avalanche to Wandering Bear. Despite being signed to labels in the past, it seems nobody wanted to touch this release for some reason, as it is coming out independently. That’s a real shame, since Idols in the Dark Heart is such a treat. One would suppose that labels balked at Gore’s change in signature sound: instead of being jazzy like her past work, this album is much more electronic in nature, and pulses with the same frantic energy that fellow Canadian chanteuses such as Feist and Jane Siberry have tapped into in the past. Despite some odd sequencing, Idols in the Dark Heart is a disarming and pleasing LP of somewhat experimental pop that hardly leaves the listener cold. It is challenging, but not difficult to get to, and there’s plenty of great stuff to be found with this album’s cool grooves.
“Character Girls, Quiet Guys”, in particular, is what you’d get if Owen Pallett and Sufjan Stevens crossed paths with lovely piano, woodwinds and strings intertwined amongst each other. “New Year’s Eve” is another stellar piano-led number that is supple and a joy to listen to. However, despite the concessions to the somewhat commercial, the album is also full of gems such as “Hummingbird in Reverse” with its almost tribal percussion and Gore’s girlish voice. It’s stark. “Chinook”, meanwhile, is a throbbing and pulsating piece of electro-rock, and is a standout and veers off the quiet path that some of the record hews a path towards. Generally speaking, Idols in the Dark Heart is a beguiling album, one that charms the listener with its refusal to give into or yield towards being anything other than a painting or sculpture in sound. Fans who love a sense of adventure should definitely go out of their way and hunt this disc down.