Aviary – Julia Holter Album Review


Track List

Turn The Light On
Voce Simul
Everyday Is An Emergency
Another Dream
I Shall Love 2
Underneath The Moon
In Gardens’ Muteness
I Would Rather See You
Les Jeux To You
Words I Heard
I Shall Love 1
Why Sad Song



Discordant, jarring and audibly challenging, Julia Holter’s 5th studio album and epic 90 minute Aviary makes for quite the exhaustive listen. On the surface, Aviary feels like a chaotic jumble of sounds and instruments all struggling to find their place within the challenging compositions they find themselves. When you dig a little deeper, Aviary is an intelligently written reflection of the busy world we live in, a beautiful and oftentimes difficult recreation of our lives with glimmers of brilliance shining through. Be prepared for quite the exhausting listen before you reach that blissful tranquillity though as Aviary is quite the challenging album, one that’s likely to alienate many people.

Listening to Aviary feels more like a minimalistic film score than a fully fledged pop or rock album. Each track clings to its chord structure rather than a drum beat, building up each composition with a constant introduction of new verses or instruments until a chaotic breakdown and a few momentary lapses of silence. It’s quite the interesting production technique and while this is likely to alienate a fair few listeners, it also makes some really challenging compositional pieces.

The album opens with Turn The Light On before flowing through a series of audibly different and intriguing songs; some that work, some that do not. The beautifully written Underneath The Moon and I Would Rather See You stand out as being particularly endearing pieces, with melodies and instruments complementing the beautiful vocal range Julia Holter boasts. On the other side of the spectrum are tracks like Everyday Is An Emergency and Chaitius that nail the chaotic feel parts of the album are striving for but don’t quite do enough to justify the strange and discordant way these tracks have been pieced together.

Aviary is not an album for everyone. In fact, it’s an album that’s likely to alienate as much as it is endear listeners. The lack of harmony within the tracks, the unique patchwork of compositional work and the general weirdness radiating through large swathes of the album give Aviary a distinct appeal that may not be suited for the casual listener. Repeat plays certainly help get the most out of the album but if you go in expecting something more akin to a film score than a standard rock/pop album, you’re more likely to find some enjoyment from this album.

  • Verdict - 6.5/10