Pop music is meant to be fun and upbeat right. It’s supposed to make you want to dance and sing. Nothing wrong with that, But let’s face it; pop is so often transparently trying to relate to people that most chart topping pop songs are just plain predictable. With the EP ’12:26′, by Natalie Lucassian throw away all preconceived notions of what pop music is or should be. The Detroit-based singer-songwriter and guitarist, has a fresh and original take on the genre that may surprise even the most jaded music fan. To simply call this a pop album might give the wrong impression. It has a dark and lusty sound, with brooding basslines and moody vocals. In spite of these darker rock roots, Natalie is not above playing catchy and upbeat material either. She has a great voice with a nuanced and impeccable vocal range that can be heard on all of these tracks. Lucassian truly has a gift for crafting original songs, playing off of her roots to combine rock and pop together in a dark and emotional way few others can.
It’s become cliché to conclude that certain artists are searching for their true sound, but as with most clichés, it’s only the extent which is up for conjecture. On her EP ’12:26′, one just had to determine that Natalie Lucassian was exploring how best to communicate her diverse musical landscape.
How else could you explain the move from the sprawling and sumptuously haunting, opening track “Restless”, to the edgy uncompromising rock of “Pressure” and the the soul-driven blues of “Ghost”, then back to the clubby bass and rhythmic pump of the title track “12:26”?
Either way the diversity on offer here falls somewhere between creatively focused and outrageously impressive. For these reasons, this EP was always going to be a fascinating listen. Natalie is at her best when performing a dark and thoroughly emotional brand of pop-rock that also retains accessibility.
And that’s what she delivers throughout this recording. Natalie’s soul-baring – and occasionally melodramatic lyrics, ultimately maintain momentum, as her impressive vocal range anchors the pieces individually, channeling the subtleties of PJ Harvey one moment and then bellowing like Florence Welch the next.
It’s as difficult to ignore the talent and potential that is apparent, as it is to disregard that everything comes together in cohesive fashion. The promising songwriting is way above-average, while the mix of organic and electronic instrumentation is spot on for the most part.
Most gratifying is the manner in which various guitar techniques allow the songs to retain an edge, instead of having them descend into the well-worn and over-crowded mainstream pop scene. Each track is so deliciously unexpected I immediately replayed them…again…and again.
One thing is for certain; this authentic, uncompromising and distinctive four tracks are is fierce and bold. Natalie Lucassian’s perceptive, razor sharp and frank lyrics reflect her complete self-awareness. There’s no fluff, no superficial cute girl chasing cute boy, trite love songs, or shallow pop themes going on in this EP at all.
It’s much more profound than that. There is no forgettable voice either. In contrast Natalie’s vocals contain a controlled sensuality, until she completely lets her voice go, releasing a stunning surreal sound which ripples, sizzles and hums with electricity.