LAUREL is the best she’s ever sounded on her latest, PETROL BLOOM – a retro-futuristic offering doused with a new kind of magic.
It’s been more than two years since the release of her shattering debut album DOGVIOLET (with a smattering of releases in between) but LAUREL has returned with a bang.
Moving away from the guitar-dominated DIY landscapes of its predecessor, the synth-doused PETROL BLOOM glistens with a new kind of magic, seeing the English alt-pop star traverse new spaces sonically – as she simultaneously does so personally and physically.
The inspiration for PETROL BLOOM was threefold: a new place, a new romance, and a new sound. In a time when COVID was little more than a far-fetched what-if?, LAUREL embarked on a road trip across the heart of the American West. Between Death Valley and Joshua Tree, the ideas for a new set of songs began to blossom, propelled forward by the motion of the road.
After a chance meeting, Chrome Sparks (Empress Of, Major Lazer) would become producer, and with a world of synths at his side, his retro-futuristic edge was a match made in heaven for a collection of songs first conceived in the seat of a 1982 Jeep Scrambler.
Whilst darker guitars may have been traded for glistening synths, what perists throughout PETROL BLOOM is LAUREL’s vocals – luscious, sweltering, and intimate. Kicking off with Scream Drive Faster, LAUREL shrugs off the slower tempos of her debut for an opener which pulls no punches. Scream Drive Faster is a road trip song through and through. A pulsing dance beat illuminates a new synth-filled landscape, whose lightness only serves to better accentuate LAUREL’s voice.
Yet even so, it’s perhaps within the slightly slower, more tender confines of Best I Ever Had that the true glory of PETROL BLOOM can be found.
“Born in the fire / Golden waves up on the shore can’t calm us / Burn on the beaches we won,” she sings in the opening lines. “Breathe in the city / Said we’re moving much to quickly for ya / Fly like an eagle in love.”
The imagery – both apocalyptic and triumphant – evokes the shaking, full-body experience of new passion, as LAUREL concedes again and again: “You’re the best I ever had.”
Elsewhere, on Appetite LAUREL showcases a knack for pop hooks – although, as always, she tactically diverts them into the indie realm. On Walk Away and Sometimes, LAUREL drives further into the sparkling abyss, proving that, for all intents and purposes, she’s only just getting started. Whilst it might not be the season for roadtrips, PETROL BLOOM promises to take you wherever you want to go.
PETROL BLOOM is out now on all platforms via Communion Records/Caroline Australia, grab your copy here.