Album Review

AURORA - What Happened To The Heart?

Monolithic in nature, an album on which hurt is both resisted and overwhelmingly embraced.

AURORA - What Happened To The Heart?

“What is life worth living if you don’t bleed for anything?” sings AURORA on the Kate Bush-like ‘To Be Alright’. It’s the type of plea that populates the singer’s fourth album, whereby hurt is both resisted and overwhelmingly embraced. As ever, she’s visceral in her depictions: “Your blood / Do you feel it travel in and out of your heart? / Needles stitching up the big holes?” she asks on the antithetical happy-go-lucky indie pop ‘Your Blood’, whose preppy electric guitars and queasy, hopelessly romantic melodies call to mind The Cardigans. Then, on the astutely poetic ‘The Conflict of the Mind’, she pleads with a lover to open up. “Only when I see you cry / I feel conflicted in my mind / It fills my heart up and it breaks me at the very same time,” she echoes. 

For the first half of the record, AURORA, post-breakup, speaks all things left unsaid, closing the door but not without mourning: “We’re good people and we both deserve peace,” she sings on ‘Some Type of Skin’, before howling “My God! It’s a lot! / I’ve got to build some type of skin!” But the heart does not ache only for romance, and any acquired armour is ditched for catharsis. She then turns to spirituality, whereby the organ is treated instead as a cerebral entity that leads with poetic, connected complexity. ‘The Dark Dresses Lightly’, an anthemic pop horror cut, ushers this change. Her claustrophobic post-breakup gaze turns outward, filled with anguish, rage and resentment at an emotionally out-of-touch populace: “All this fear, it’s contagious,” she sings. 

Via celestial ‘80s disco and synthpop, clubby trance and electronica, she captures the pandemic of human arrogance and avoidance: on the arid ‘Starvation’ she asks “Why do we have to die for us to see the light? / We hunger for love,” working both romantic metaphor and critique of inequality. Later, on the twangy, guttural ‘My Name’, tired of unhealed trauma and collective ignorance to environmental overconsumption, she reminds the listener, “You eventually will be eaten by yourself,” closing the section with apocalyptic earthly rave on the inventive and rowdy ‘My Body Is Not Mine’. Monolithic in nature, the world-building on ‘What Happened to the Heart?’ makes a bleeding heart – both for self and the earth – appear rapturous and unfathomably healing. 

Tags: AURORA, Reviews, Album Reviews

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