Following a debut can be a tricky business, however this usually results in the second effort being a more introspective and experimental affair. Inner Song is one such album, coming three years after Kelly Lee Owens’ self-titled debut and charting a far more raw expression of self than seen previously.
Opening with the jarring synthetic bass and drums of ‘Arpeggi’, Inner Song demands you take notice with a beautiful dirge of a bassline and disparate drums, before breaking into something altogether more like 90s garage overlaid with a discordant melody. It sets the atmosphere of what’s to come without giving away too much of the treats to follow.
‘On’ then reins in the pace a little, opting for a more traditional dark electronica feel, channelling the likes of early Crystal Castles with a foreboding feeling brought on by the melody and a satisfyingly jarring echo on the vocals. This slowing of pace occurs throughout the album, and ‘On’ is merely a tease for the momentum shifts of the next few tracks. Namely because ‘Melt!’ hammers it’s way into your ears with a drumbeat and bassline made for the dancefloor before ‘Re-Wild’ pivots back to sauntering indie melancholy, however ‘Re-Wild’ favours a sound that practically washes over you like a tide. A wall of sound that crashes into you with the chorus and leaves a lasting impression long after it passes.
‘Jeanette’ returns to the ambience of ‘On’ with its distinct retro game-like sound. It would have just blended into the background and been missed in its arguable repetitiveness if not for the heavy bass breakdown in the middle dragging the listener back in, then bringing back in the melody over the bass until the end. After the arguable aural assault of the last three tracks, ‘L.I.N.E.’ is a welcome mellow oasis with gentle vocals leading the melody forward before ‘Corner Of My Sky’ returns to the dirge of ‘Arpeggi’ with a simply filthy bass-line practically kicking the song along and the simple repeated chorus from guest singer John Cale linking with the bass to create an almost hypnotic monotony over its seven and a half minutes.
‘Night’ follows the pattern seen throughout Inner Song, with it almost dipping into dull monotony before flipping the script entirely and forcing you back into listening. Ethereal soft electronica to begin with before slamming a heavy beat on you in the last third and keeping you invested until the end, which unfortunately doesn’t work for ‘Flow’, which lacks the fishhook moment contained within the other tracks, so dips a little too far into monotony.
Finally, however, is the upbeat ‘Wake-Up’, which is a perfect end to the album. It takes a lot of the atmosphere and, for the lack of a better word, tricks of the rest of the tracks and shifts out of the early melancholy. This means that this ends the album on a hopeful note after the more sombre notes struck throughout and leaves a positive impression of the future after so much introspection.
Inner Song is incredible through and through, not letting the listener go from beginning to end. From the melancholic dirge of ‘Arpeggi’ and ‘Corner Of My Sky’ to the softer feel of ‘L.I.N.E.’, the album simply pulls you in to almost every track. If this is what Kelly Lee Owens has achieved on her second album, it makes the prospect of what comes next incredibly enticing.