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Her
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  • Australian quartet Totally Mild made a strong showing with 2015's Down Time, a lush, heartsick debut of sophisticated dream pop that introduced the winsome voice and creative vision of frontwoman Elizabeth Mitchell and her three collaborators, guitarist Zachary Schneider, bassist Lehmann Smith, and drummer Ashley Bundang. Arriving three years later, their follow-up release, Her, finds the Melbourne group sounding even more confident, weaving the disparate joys, sorrows, and desires of human connection into intimate missives of pop transcendence. As a songwriter, Mitchell dazzles, deftly finessing left-turn melodies and unexpected shifts into unshowy displays of elegance and craft. Mood-swinging from murky lows to luminous highs, opener "Sky" sets up the album's emotional and tonal palettes which shift from the stark piano balladry of the gorgeous "Lucky Stars" to the dark electric sizzle of "Today Tonight," which boasts one of Mitchell's keenest observations: "heaven's knowing what you want when you're young, heaven's feeling old and done." Throughout these ten songs, she seems to wrestle with perceptions of independence and her place in relationships, career, and at home. In the album's press release, Mitchell refers to Her as being "a document of a woman struggling with the idea of potential." This struggle is the subject of "Working Like a Crow," another of Her's many standouts, which pairs a gentle singsong melody with a spacious and clever arrangement from Schneider, whose guitar work is one of the record's most tasteful components. Producer James Cecil (Architecture in Helsinki) adds his own influence, helping to shape the band's dynamics and foster a sonic texture that enhances Totally Mild's distinctive bright/moody blend. Thoughtful, engaging, and sublimely put-together, Her is the sound of a band hitting their stride. ~ Timothy Monger
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