Pope Innocent X
Creeping from out of the dark, Pope Innocent X is bleak, swirling in desolation and accompanied by a sense of foreboding. Bertie Blackman is back with her fourth album, and the results are both confronting and magnificent.
Opening song Tremors grows at a palpable rate, and seamlessly forms into lead single Mercy Killing. Although dressed as a pop song, a read of the lyrical content show that the only brightness in the song reflects the shock in one’s eyes as they discover the truth – “Vexing you was such a guilty pleasure/as I shiver in this cold cold loveless dark/Still I hunger to come clean with a confession/But you are a relic in my black and jealous heart”.
With Sophia Brous at times lending her own distinctive vocals to support Blackman’s strong voice, and supported by a band with as much scope and talent as their leader, the arrangements and musical layout of P.I.X. are all-encompassing. No matter how they are dressed, however, the 11 songs that compose this album are, by nature, dark. Take, for example, “He took a hand/Broke every finger/to help him stand” – Boy, or “A travel guide for foundlings who have nowhere to go/Trace the eastern fracture to the cape of alone” – Maps.
By combining the lyrical depths and musical breadth that she does, Bertie Blackman has created an album that is as strong as anything she’s crafted before, including her 2009 ARIA-winning Secrets And Lies. And when listened to while viewing the similarly disturbing liner note imagery (or website – a lesson for PR agencies can be learnt from Blackman’s ‘About’ page), there’s no secret that Pope Innocent X deserves all the accolades it receives.
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