Review: AURORA's Infections Of A Different Kind... Literally



8/10

"The underdogs are my lions." With this sentence, the Norwegian singer AURORA starts her personal journey in her second studio album Infections Of A Different Kind - Step 1. After almost three years of absence from the musical environment, she has come back with an exotic and particular set of eight songs, showing maturity and courage in her intimate lyricism and elaborate melodies and harmonies.

This album's cover perfectly embodies the emotions that her music provides, anticipated by the two bubbly singles "Queendom" and "Forgotten Love," which are respectively the first and second tracks. The second one in particular has AURORA's usual trademark: intricate harmonies with high-pitched soothing sounds and an addictive chorus. "Forgotten Love" starts off with a calm piano riff, accompanied by a hint of drums, making the melody more pounding when the chorus starts:

"If I am left with a rose in my hand, let it die -- it's the beauty in forgotten love."

Things start to get intense from the third track "Gentle Earthquakes." AURORA's voice is as limpid as ever, establishing an intimate relationship with the listener and nature. The sounds melt together, and they keep going and juxtaposing like ocean waves during a storm. The choir-like tone goes on with the drums, and in the last part of the song everything fades out to give space to the most effective song off the album. "All Is Soft Inside" talks about internal torment, opening with an ethereal chorus that makes the listener stop and think about it. I can't even explain how rare it is for a song to make the listener actually do something, it is as if the music owned one's capacity to intend and to think.

"I carry more than you see; my dreams are bigger than me."

The last part of the song gets more and more powerful when her voice takes possession of the background with strength and a little bit of narcissism as it sings "we can save what is pure if the hearts can collide." Different is a word to describe this album.

In a video explanation she says, "In the studio you just become music, and music don't need to sleep. And then you don't need to sleep, because you become the music." This is exactly what this album is about: the listener has a deeper understanding of life and the main component in life is always sound; as McLuhan said, "we are enveloped by sound," and Infections Of A Different Kind surrounds everything just by existing.

Furthermore, the fifth track "It Happened Quiet" sees Aksnes' incredible voice dynamism alongside a hauntingly beautiful 32-strong choir group. This song, with its violins and wavy harmonies, talks about what it means to be human. Her voice resonates through the speaker of my computer with such delicacy that I am scared to press pause, it's a song that cannot be stopped. AURORA cannot be stopped right now.

"Are your dreams as dead as they seem?"

Speaking of hauntingly beautiful, the next track is "Churchyard", starting with an a capella introduction that sings "he told me I belong in a churchyard, he told me I could walk away but I wouldn't get far..." Toxicity is the main topic here, describing violent behaviour as part of routine; the singer is trying to somehow justify the hate that is spreading in people. Her words are enhanced by the entrance of glorious drums which encage the rage that is visibly hearable in her way of expressing music. It is not the highest point that this album reaches, but it testifies how amazing of a producer AURORA is. In fact, she chose to have a major role in this production, which is clearly much more complicated than the first album.

"Please will you remember me and cry?"

"Soft Universe" is the second to last track, still characterized by lovely harmonies yet very dark and honest lyrics. With echoes and reverberation it makes its way to the end of the song with a wide opening enriched by the singer's own harmonies and second voices. The pounding drums and a few synths abruptly come to a stop, leaving the listener with an unknown energy inside.

But the last track... the last track is, honestly, one of the most beautiful songs I have ever had the pleasure to encounter. The intensity of the lyrics and vocals that are found in the track that named the album, "Infections Of A Different Kind", are astounding. AURORA outdid herself, questioning one's entire existence. The piano torments the melody, accompanied by the clearest vocals in the LP, having ups and downs just like when a mother rocks her child to make him fall asleep. The vocals at the end of the song don't say anything, just humming, but they have been created to make anyone who's listening to them cry. This song sprang emotions that I didn't know existed. It is a great closing song, after such a passionate album. No song provoked tears, in my opinion, but to cry at the end of a listening session helps to get rid of all the stress and thoughts that accumulated after the reflection that this album meant to cause in one's mind.

This album's only possible connotation is beautiful. Ethereal. There are many actually. But I was pleasantly surprised that the innocent AURORA wasn't lost in the process. The only "infection" that is haunting our world is pain; there is too much unnecessary pain that is being spread around every day. AURORA is here to lift some weight off our shoulders, and the only thing we can do is listen to her.

"And if there is a God, would we even know his name? And if there is a God I think he would shake his head... and turn away."

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