This review was co-written by myself and CMG staff writer Brent Ables.
Loud City Song begins quietly, above the city. “Heaven, all the heavens of the world.” An urban stargazer distracted by the quiet sky, soon brought back to earth: “Are you looking for anything?” The album is often like this: Julia Holter sings a line or two from one perspective and then shifts without notice, capturing at once the anonymity and singularity of urban life. Any city is like every city if you look at it from above. To focus on what is in front of us, we have to shelter ourselves from that openness: “I don’t know how I wear a hat so much…The city can’t see my eyes.” But it’s harder to shut out the sounds; easier to let them flow through you, the rhythms of the streets becoming the gateway to the subconscious. “All singers with eyes closed.” Searching for the right note, maybe, or the right voice—or finding the song in a stranger’s interjections: “How could you sing / That every day I talk to you.” Holter has often included found sounds in her music, covertly recording her grocers and neighbors, and those reappear here. But these are pure supplements, like illustrations in fantasy novels. The real story is told in the music. Through her, here, the city sings.