Rose Elinor Dougall's second record under her own name should help erase all the modifiers added to her name. 2017's Stellular is impressive enough that she no longer need be referred to as a former Pipette. It's a brilliant enough album that she doesn't need her association with Mark Ronson be the first thing people talk about, either. Her first album under her own name, 2010's Without Why?, was good, sometimes even great, but this one positions her as a force to be reckoned with on the modern pop scene. Teaming with Boxed In's Oli Bayston, the duo have crafted a bright and sophisticated sound that's full of shiny synths and Dougall's luminous vocals. The album is made up of slick disco tracks, introspective space pop almost-ballads, dramatic wonky pop jams, and the kind of warm, richly hued pop songs that feel like a warm embrace on a cold day. It's not a million miles from her former bandmate Gwenno's work on her 2015 album Y Dydd Olaf, but where that had a sleek, machine-driven heart, Stellular is mostly powered by the sound of real drums and crisply played stringed instruments. It makes for a less cosmic sound, more down to earth and emotionally grounded. Her emotions aren't displayed on her sleeve, but they are there just the same. A listen to the soaring chorus of "Space to Be," just to cite one example, might be enough to get the waterworks flowing for a more sensitive soul. There are moments like that dotting the entire album, just below the glossy synths and Dougall's gleaming vocal harmonies. Emotions aside, the songs are hooky enough, the sounds arranged nicely enough, and Dougall's vocals are inviting enough, that it works on a purely sonic level, too. One would have to look very hard to find a better example of modern pop that doesn't pander to trends than the title track or the glittering slow motion disco jam "All at Once." She may not have the range of a Ro?sin Murphy yet, the raw emotion of Robyn's best work, or the glam explosiveness of Goldfrapp, but she's not too far behind, and if she makes more albums like Stellular, it won't be long before she's joining their rarified class. ~ Tim Sendra
Pitchfork (Website) - "The lilting 'Take Yourself With You' recalls '70s folk, spacey Stereolab, and some of ABBA's pastoral, statelier tracks."
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