The Quietus - A new rock music and pop culture website


Elisabeth Elektra
Mercurial Nick Roseblade , May 21st, 2020 08:43

Elisabeth Elektra's debut Mercurial offers up 40 minute of solid neon-streaked escapism, finds Nick roseblade

When I was at school, pop music was a dirty word. This was a time when Britpop ruled the lunchtime stereos. A time when the height of authenticity was a copy of the first two Prodigy albums, fake Manc accent (I grew up in Dorset), a blow cut, and a pack of B&H sticking out of your pocket. Pop music was my cue to go to the toilet during Top of the Pops before something ‘decent’ came on. To my naïve teenage ears if was a manufactured sham of everything I thought I stood for.

Luckily, I grew out of this phase and now readily embrace pop for the shimmering wonder that it is. I’d like to think that if Elisabeth Elektra’s debut album Mercurial had come out during that phase it would have wowed me as much as it does in 2020.

The album begins with ‘I Am the Love’. Instead of coming out of the traps on all cylinders, Elektra gracefully opens with reflective synths as her breathy vocals glide over them. ‘My Sisters’ picks up the pace a bit, but never really gets out of its initial groove. This isn’t a bad thing. Here Elektra delivers an incredible earworm and her vocals sound luscious.

The strongest tracks on the album are closers ‘Hieroglyphic’ and ‘Obsidian’. The former is a culmination of everything we’ve heard so far, but Elektra ratchets it up a notch. The lead synth sounds very Vangelis in Blade Runner mode, but it’s the chorus that really hammers everything home. The music pauses for a moment, summons up the effort for that extra push and searing synths erupt from the speakers dousing us in a much-needed hit of dayglo fun. Instead of being a drenched in Vantablack, ‘Obsidian’ is a surprisingly airy affair. Elektra’s vocals dance and glide over trap-esque beats and wonky synths. Buried deep in the bowels of the song is a bassline that definitely benefits from being played as loud as possible.

The only real downside to Mercurial is that it never really leaves mid-tempo ballad territory. It would have been great to see Elektra tackle something hi-octane – though ‘Hieroglyphic’ comes close – or a really slow, broody ballad (Elektra clearly has vocal range, along with an ability to craft densely layered backing tracks). It’s these songs that every popstar needs in their arsenal. Hopefully, she will be able to slot in a few of these on her next album, giving it the change in tone and pace that her debut is missing at times.

What Mercurial does really well is offer forty minutes of neon escapism. This is an album that you can play to death and still not get bored. It’s an album that will delight seasoned pop heads as well as new fans. It’s an album that features captivating melodies next to glorious vocals. It’s an album that won me over from the opening and keeps winning me over weeks later.