Arts and Entertainment

Between The Moon and Stars

“Infections of A Different Kind: Step 1” is a bold compilation of expressive and craftily put together songs.

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By Daniel Berlinsky

Self-described as “dancing in a place in between the moon and stars” on her Twitter profile, it's no wonder Aurora’s sophomore album is astral and quirky. This is immediately evident through its title: “Infections of a Different Kind: Step 1.” As the second part of the title indicates, this is only the first “step” of a larger, cohesive piece. Aurora (stylized as AURORA) is known for her deviant artistry; her debut album “All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend” (2016) diverged from popular music with otherworldly themes, as seen in songs such as “Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1)” and “Running With The Wolves.” Her songs, most often classified as folk-pop or indie-pop, are composed of a distinct voice that makes her singing feel authentic and layered. But “Infections of a Different Kind: Step 1” is a journey of experimentation that feels even more adventurous than her previous efforts.

The opening track, “Queendom,” is a defiant commentary on gender roles wrapped in a fantastical melody: “the women will be my soldiers / the weight of life on their shoulders… I made this Queendom on my own.” The song is upbeat, accompanied by an anthropological layering of voice, percussion, and lyric as human voices and hymnal tones mesh against each other. It feels somewhat reminiscent of a triumphant Scandinavian ballad, reflecting Aurora’s Scandinavian heritage. “Forgotten Love” feels similarly organic, with a warm and humanistic melody as Aurora sings about being forgotten by a love interest. Later on in the album, “Soft Universe” is also optimistic in tone. This track, aided by skillful production, refers back to the anthropological feel of the opening track, with hums, rumbling percussion, and chanting.

Other tracks, however, are less explorative in terms of theme but more explorative lyric-wise and composition-wise. “Gentle Earthquakes” seems to be somewhat of an oxymoronic title, and the dissonance of the title is reflected in the composition of the track. The song starts off soft, and Aurora sounds wispy and sedated, but as the song edges toward the chorus, the beat quickly picks up as she sings, “like a gentle earthquake / it intensifies.” The connection between the title and the actual composition of the song is a clever integration into the song’s poetry.

Other melodic experimentations throughout the album are further evidence of compositional exploration that Aurora delves into, such as in “It Happened Quiet,” which is a chilling ballad with a particular low strings solo that recalls the Romantic era. The title track, “Infections of a Different Kind,” is a revelation in its own right. It features contemplative lyrics (“If I'm the world, then why would I hurt / All that is living?”) set to a soaring ballad melody that urges the provocation of thought in listeners.

As a whole, “Infections of a Different Kind: Step 1” is a taste of the wide breadth of talent Aurora has to offer, but doesn’t really explore any cohesive theme other than experimentation. Taken out of context, this bold project on Aurora’s behalf may seem polarizing and dissonant, as the flow from one song to another is at times sudden. But the music, fundamentally, is genuinely explorative, intellectual, and soaring.