SOPHIE – Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides
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SOPHIE Oil of Every Pearl's Un-Insides Transgressive

The sudden arrival of It’s Okay to Cry in the last few months of 2017 was a revelation. SOPHIE, an artist elusive enough to use a decoy during live performances, was suddenly front and centre with an achingly tender synth-pop ballad featuring, for the first time, her voice. It was very much, as the rumoured title of her debut album promised, the beginning of a whole new world – both for the innovative super-producer making a bid for proper pop-stardom and for the untold numbers to whom seeing a femme flying in the face of gender expression while still finding mainstream success and acceptance in doing so means everything.

OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES is every bit the full-length statement of purpose SOPHIE’s fans have waited years for; a maturation and refinement of her brand of meta plasticine electro that reflects the sharpened sense of focus that accompanies its creator strutting purposefully into the spotlight. Second single Ponyboy is rife with the same sense of flirtatious kink and unnervingly sweet sonics that marked earlier hits like Lemonade, only here these qualities have been amplified in a manner that displays confidence rather than indulgence (anyone capable of delivering a line like “Spit on my face/ Put the pony in his place” over skull-crushing beats is certainly not lacking conviction).

Ever a purveyor of the unexpected, SOPHIE manages to confound as many expectations as she meets. Pretending is six minutes of oceanic ambience unlike anything in her catalogue thus far, while the relentlessly hard finale Whole New World:Pretend World is pure ‘90s Eurodance that furiously cracks apart into cascading showers of synth, eventually hissing its way to oblivion. Some listeners may find the album’s middle third to be meandering, lacking the immediacy of its front and back sides, but it inevitably serves as a much-needed bit of breathing room between the noxious environs of her more manic impulses. It is in these moments of seeming clash, of brutalism handled with fragility, that SOPHIE not only thrives but inspires.