Friday, May 26, 2023

Marika Christine Can’t Stop Being Inspired On Debut Album ‘Soft Like An Apricot’

Hailing from The Golden City, more commonly known as San Francisco, you’d expect Marika Christine’s latest album to be influenced by the sunshine haze that envelopes her hometown almost every day of the year. 

Soft Like an Apricot’ almost certainly fits this billing, with sun-drenched guitars and melodic synths oozing their way through every track. Yet, the album is more than just some summer-playlist fodder, and instead takes the listener on an odyssey of emotions and influences. 

Opener ‘Chrysalis’ is a short number that borders on an instrumental baring some vague, indistinguishable words over ethereal synths. It’s an interesting start, but one that soon comes gliding down as soft drums and the jazz-infused trumpets of follow-up ‘Bad Butterflies’ sparks the album into life. It’s not the only time that Christine shows her Mac DeMarco influences, as later track ‘Whispered Afternoon’ is a particular standout amongst many songs that also nod to her penchant for synths and soft drumbeats that she shares with the Canadian native. 

You still get the impression throughout the album, however, that Christine is conscious about not being labelled a one-trick pony. Take the exceptional ‘Buckle up Baby’ for example, which may follow a similar formula to other tracks but does so in a more anthemic manner, with its large piano chord progressions and choir-like harmonies. Even the first single taken from the album, the interesting ‘Apricots’, hints at a more prog-rock direction as the song's four-and-a-half-minute run time is saturated by various strands of funky keyboard lines and acappella harmonies. 

It is particularly in the lyrics offered by Christine that we realise things aren’t as one-dimensional as they may seem on first listen. There is a melancholic element that permeates through her whimsical vocal delivery that add a tinge of sadness, whilst lines like “No need for labels but things just aren’t the same” in ‘Someone Else”, a track which has infectiously effervescent melodies, only adds to the sense of bittersweetness found on the album.  

The most startling aspect of ‘Soft Like an Apricot’ is just how many influences and genres Christine is able to bend and mould into a formula that clearly works for her. ‘Bird Talk’ is laced with drum and bass beats whilst ‘Strange Times’ is a crooning, blues-infused number. Even ‘Rational Reaction’ lends a funky guitar chord progression straight from The Police’s ‘Roxanne’. These deviations, done in Christine’s unique style, allow the album to breathe and shift, whilst the fact it manages to do so gracefully is a clear example of the artist’s great skill as a singer/songwriter. 

Closer ‘Familiar’ is a perfect metaphor for how Christine has gone about constructing this album, using methods and sounds familiar to herself, and infusing them with a multitude of inspirations. It’s a beautiful song, with its softly plucked acoustic guitar and Christine’s other-worldly vocals, and it's one that promises of an artist at the top of her game. 

James Ogden 

Image: ‘Soft Like an Apricot’ Official Album Cover 

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