Western Australian dark pop songbird Felicity Groom is back with her third album Magnetic Resonance Centre; her first since 2014. And she’s bitten off plenty, largely producing it herself amidst having and raising two daughters. “It has been predominantly written and recorded in in my house in-between daytime naps that my children would have,” Groom explains in the LP’s press release. “It’s not easy making music with new babies.”
The challenges are obvious, yet Groom has managed it with this thirteen-track album. She’s even drawing inspiration from her daughters on first single “Dance For None” and the penultimate “Afterlife”. Singles have been drip fed out over the past year, offering a sample of what fans could expect, including the meditative “Burj Khalifa”, robotic “Human” and most recently the Heath Ledger-inspired “Hey Sun”.
There’s some big-name involvement too, with fellow WA music royalty Kevin Parker, from Tame Impala, helping with production, along with Groom’s bandmate Matt Jelinek. But in the main, Groom has self-recorded and produced the album.
When she arrived on to the scene in late 2008, winning a bunch of WA Music Awards and garnering hype as a Triple J feature artist, Groom had pop charm with “Fingers and Keepers” and folk tones in “Criminal”. But this latest offering may be less accessible, it’s yet deeper and darker.
Don’t get me wrong, Magnetic Resonance Centre still has hooks and sugar melodies, combined with Groom’s angelic voice, but it’s a slow burn. At times it’s an emotional journey. As a more mature artist she also tackles more than production, with strong themes prominent; including politics, gender equality, social media and Australia’s dark history.
Album opener “Human” has a retro futuristic feel with one-word sentences and robotic vocals that create a paradigm with her underlying message that our proneness to mistakes, unlike computers, leads to the joy of creativity. Third track “Hey Sun” details Groom’s childhood interactions with the late Ledger during his youth in Perth and is summed by the lyrics: “I kept a picture of you from a paper to remind me that anything is possible”, drawing on his Hollywood success as an inspiration.
The brooding and mechanical “DIY Enemy” tackles the topic of out-of-touch leaders, with the sax a highlight along with the siren-like bass. Meanwhile Groom’s angelic vocals go on repeat and shine on the strangely danceable “Burj Khalifa”.
Parker played a role in producing “Red Dust” which peaks as a stripped back song confronting Australia’s history with Indigenous people. It appears to include Aboriginal clap sticks to add tone. “I’ll Be Your Beacon” is a hidden gem, brooding with positivity and love, with the opening strings one of the standouts of the album. “Afterlife” is a beautiful room-stopper to practically close out the album, albeit with a late burst of energy that’s typical of Groom’s latest offering.
Magnetic Resonance Centre is full of surprises, it’s full of talent, it’s full of emotion and it’s full of depth.
THREE STARS (OUT OF FIVE)
Felicity Groom’s Magnetic Resonance Centre is out now.
The album launch of Magnetic Resonance Centre will take place on Friday November 27th at Mojo’s Bar in Fremantle. Tickets are available HERE.