As has been noted before, opposites have a habit of attracting each other. There’s definitely a host of conflicting or at the very least contrasting atmospheres that don’t so much collide as neatly intersect on Mirores, the debut album from Ani Glass.
At the most obvious, surface level, there’s a heady mixture of the English and Welsh language, the former tending to turn up in sample form – Huw Edwards on the news, an apparently all female choir singing – while Glass herself chooses to sing mainly but not exclusively in the latter tongue. On the track ‘Agnes’, closer to the album, she appears to slip from one to the other, starting out with strident statements like Wales’ answer to Grace Jones but by the end sounding closer to the elfin magic of Bjork.
On a more sensory plane, though, the 11-track selection is a gorgeous sweet spot where pure pop and experimentalism encircle each other in a sensuous, bewitching dance.
Even the album’s most direct pop big hitters, like the undeniably catchy ‘Cathedral In The Desert’, is run through with subtle ambience, found sound and Vangelis-like keyboards that shine like rays of sunlight. As for the lyrics. lines like “we are a floating congregation” and “we are controlled by buildings” are definitely an intellectual cut above the usual. ‘Yns Araul’ is another equally tenacious earworm, following the kind of simple synthpop beauty mined so effectively by Ladytron and Saint Etienne, but again suitably frayed and frazzled enough at the edges to remain edgy and interesting.
The main star of the LP, of course, is the voice of Ani Glass, proving not only powerful but versatile too, equally wondrous at a whisper or at full pelt. Opening track ‘The Ballad of a Good City’ sees her nearing operatic power, but the title track ‘Minores’ feels as intimate as a breathless voice close up to your ear, coasting along on Human League-like dayglo innocence, managing to be uplifting and melancholy all at the same time.
Other highlights? The darker sounding ‘Peirianwaith Perffaith’ and ‘IBT’ with the aforementioned choir caught in joyous song, a rejuvenating half time entertainment, or the more freeform and poignant ‘Cariad’, would all qualify.
All in all, this is a strikingly confident debut from an artist who isn’t afraid to strike out into unknown territory but still has a hand on the wheel of accessibility at all times. Which is just how we tend to like them. Smashing stuff.