It’s tempting to label Laura Mvula as a musical chameleon. Just when you think you’ve got her pegged, she seems to reinvent herself. However, she doesn’t do this out of superficial compulsion to stay on-trend or to blend in with the current musical landscape, but rather as a means of further revealing the brilliant complexities that make up her truest self. Moving past the cinematic orchestrations of her Sing To The Moon debut, to the cathartic, funk-driven pulse of 2016’s The Dreaming Room, the classically-trained artist has returned with perhaps her most unexpected project yet – a neon-lit, ’80s dance party entitled Pink Noise.
“This is the album I always wanted to make,” Mvula explains of her third studio recording. “Every corner is made warm with sunset tones of the ’80s. I was born in 1986. I came out of the womb wearing shoulder pads. I absorbed the dynamism of the ’80s aesthetic right from my first moments on this planet. Wrestling with identity seems to be one of the rites of passage of the established artist.” With full transparency, she goes on to admit that, “Making Pink Noise felt like the most violent of emotional wrestling matches. It took three years of waiting and waiting and fighting and dying and nothingness and then finally an explosion of sound. As if it was always here this record is my most honest and unapologetic flying of the freedom flag. In my adult years I had forgotten how important dance was to me as a vital tool of my creative expression. I brought it back, just for me, so I could find my delight in dance again. And now I can’t stop dancing. I can’t wait to play this album live.”
Of course, when Laura first began working on the album – which she co-wrote and co-produced with Dann Hume in its entirety – she had no way of knowing a global pandemic loomed ahead. Yet, her personal struggles and ultimate triumph allowed her to create a timely, celebratory soundtrack for our reemergence to society. Perfectly pleasing to the ear of any music lover, Pink Noise lives up to the spectral power ranking that inspired its title. Electric guitar riffs, colorful horn blasts, funky keytar and booming drums support shimmery keyboard chords as Mvula’s vocals soar, sounding pristine and majestic above the dynamic soundscape.
Previous singles “Safe Passage,” “Church Girl,” “Got Me” and “What Matters” (featuring Simon Neil) are the standout tracks that got the party started with synth-pop arrangements designed to make us move and sway. But they aren’t the only highlights on this 10-track set. The brooding, sing-rap verses of “Conditional” give way to a liberating chorus that buzzes with synth energy. “Magical” is a light, mid-tempo bop with a flowing undercurrent of cheerful bounce. Static electricity courses through the infectious title track as she sings about an undeniable attraction. Album closer “Before The Dawn” is giving us “favorite movie” end credit vibes with its hopeful message and sunny sound.