Experimental pop broadsides
With spectral vocals tempered by experimental electronics, Anglo-French, Oxford-based Julia Sophie Heslop has made a successful leap from garage rock to glacial avant-pop. Her mesmeric ‘y?’ EP was one of last year’s more intriguing debuts, and its follow-up, the equally Google search unfriendly ‘</3’, is set for release in April.
Julia-Sophie is a forward-thinking avant-popster in the vein of Grimes, FKA Twigs or even the mighty Bjork. She too plays with the pop template, but with heavier nods to classic synthpop. As spins on both BBC Radio 1 and 6 Music would attest, tracks such as ‘xOx’ from ‘y?’, with its tribal drums and sultry vocal, would seem to provide cross-generational appeal. But the formula is very far from set. ‘I Wish’, the lead track from the forthcoming EP, has a more earthy, intimate feel, dragging warmth from vintage drum machines. Where ‘y?’ felt like an out-of-body Julia-Sophia examining the world, ‘</3’ comes deep from her inner being. It also featured on the most recent annual Slow Dance compilation, which has previously given an early leg up to acts like Squid, Black Midi, PVA and Goat Girl.
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This is not her first crack of the musical whip. She formed major label garage rockers Little Fish, who, in 2013, morphed into dreampop collective Candy Says who had quite a leg-up. Following a gig supporting Courtney Love in New York, a tap on the shoulder from Blondie’s Debbie Harry resulted in a month-long tour with the new wave legends. Julia-Sophie is clearly no stranger to the bright lights, which is perhaps a good job.