Album Review: AURORA – Infections of a Different Kind – Step 1

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AURORA surprised with first part of new album
It was expected that AURORA was about to release her sophomore album sometime this fall after she made a comeback with the single ‘Queendom’, but no exact date was announced until she just dropped it out of nowhere this weekend! AURORA had her breakthrough in 2015 when singles like ‘Runaway’ and ‘Running With The Wolves’ created a wave of online praise. The debut record All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend followed in 2016 while AURORA did massive club and festival tours around the world. The new album is titled Infections of a Different Kind – Step 1 hinting at a follow up to be released next year.

Hearing all eight tracks of the new record, it becomes clear that AURORA used the two singles, ‘Queendom’ and ‘Forgotten Love’, as a transition for the public to get used to her new sound. Both tracks have a distinctively more poppy feel than the other tunes. ‘Forgotten Love’ has easily the most instant and radiofriendly chorus (and what a banger it is!) of them all, while the bouncy electronic pop production of ‘Queendom’ could be described as the most upbeat moment. At the same time, she broke new ground on ‘Queendom’ lyrically, as it is an anthem of inclusion, aimed at her LGBT+ fans. Everyone is welcome in AURORA’s queendom!

So what about the other tracks? Now AURORA always had tendency to use some dark themes in her lyrics (there was a track titled ‘Murder Song’ on her debut, to back up my claim), but Infections of a Different Kind definitely takes this to a next level, both lyrically and in terms of sound. She explores folk, while the pop moments feel more inspired by Björk or Kate Bush, than the big singalong choruses of her debut. This however does not mean that she forgot about the hooks!

One of the highlights, ‘Churchyard’, is a dark slice of electronic pop with an ominous vibe. “He told me I belong in a churchyard, he told me I could walk away, but I wouldn’t get far”, she sings, almost like she is hypnotized, over a hook that will haunt you long after you heard it. The track poetically addresses how people with power often abuse it, with an empowering message as the abuser is haunted towards the end of the song. ‘Soft Universe’ describes how painful life on this planet can be in the verses: “There’s ice in my water and when I drink it cuts my tongue. There’s glass on the playground that cuts my skin when I run.” The chorus is a cry for love to create this ‘soft universe’ over icy, cutting synths and one of the more instant choruses.

‘All Is Soft Inside’ feels like the centre piece of the album, talking about how human emotions are at the root of everything, but how we at the same time have such a hard time understanding them. It seems to be the overarching theme of the whole record. Both in terms of production and composition, ‘All Is Soft Inside’ might be AURORA’s most accomplished work to date. The track takes it time to slowly build into an ethereal dream pop anthem with a soaring chorus and an incredibly layered production by MyRiot (consisting of Tim Bran and Roy Kerr who worked with London Grammar and Rae Morris before). ‘It Happened Quiet’, produced by the same team, is a haunting harp based ballad that seems to be talking about a traumatic event with an almost vengeful vibe in the last chorus. Her voice is captivating from start to finish in its almost childlike innocence with clear darker undertones.

AURORA closes the album with the quiet title track, asking all the big questions one can think of about God, life and faith. AURORA takes on big themes, does not shy away from taking a stand be it dressed in poetry and expands her sound into something broader and more experimental. Infections of a Different Kind sounds like it was created by someone way beyond her young years. It is rare for an artist to be this articulate lyrically within a soundscape they made completely their own so early on in their career. She better bring on ‘Step 2’ fairly soon!

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