Album Review: Clea reveals her cleverly crafted debut Vermillion (2018 LP)

22 year old Brisbane girl Clea is set to release her debut LP Vermillion on Friday after she finishes touring Australia and New Zealand with pop-star of the moment, King Princess. Like King Princess’ tracks, Vermillion is a panoramic look at growing up in our contemporary world told through Clea’s resonant and rich voice.

From a young age she has done everything her own way, unimpeded by authoritative and traditional expectations. Clea has teamed up with her partner, the frontman of Zefereli, Alistar Richardson to record the album in a recording studio they built together. This is just one example of the DIY organicity she promotes in all aspects of life, bringing a glowing authenticity to the forefront of her music.

Vermillion is an indie-pop album lined with a deep lethargic base. Fronted by her acoustic guitar or unique use of the mellotron, her drawing melodies match the ripe and tender tone of her voice. The album is in two distinct parts with the second half of Vermillion coloured with colourful instrumentals compared to the raw and haunting first section.

The record is cleverly crafted, with each track acting as an intricate part of the bigger picture. Listening to the album in full presents a whole new appreciation for the precision and intelligence of Clea.  Her song writing is unapologetic and parades the simplicities of life as if each moment is magnificent. This mantra is set in the opening track “Cool Days” in which her cruisy instrumentation builds for the rest of the album.

“Right Way” follows, a once techno track remade in to a swirly pop tune.  This track stands out thanks to the cheerful rhythm assumably from its techno origins. Clea’s inate lyricism is impossible to ignore in “Insecurity.” On the surface it seems like a breakup song but actually discusses the walls we put up as self defence which often lead to self destruction instead. The line “Ive got a way with words, it’s what I call insecurity,” holds the track together and floods your memory with a million different experiences each listen.

“Teenager” continues this nostalgic path and is about differentiating reality from our distorted memories. it’s hazy but striking and Clea’s voice has a warmth on this track that isn’t seen in other tracks.

The last single released before Vermillion, “Dreaming” remains the best track on the album and the best of any of Clea’s work.  We know she has the ability to create powerful swirling melodies but “Dreaming” is unique and catchy, lifting the already exuberant passion behind her voice.

“Appease,” “Angulate” and “Emotional Intelligence” bring a darker jazzy and sensual side to the record. They are vivid and moody but can be lost in the middle of the album as Vermillion starts to feel slightly repetitive.

Seemingly climaxing at the end of the album, “Grey Area” has a softened drum and bass beat with the strongest chorus of the record. It’s an empowering, anthemic pop sing along where the power and looseness of Clea’s voice finally shines. Cleverly closing with “Epilogue” the simple but glossy melody is melancholic and creamy and shows off Clea’s deep storytelling capabilities. This song feels to me like when you’re at a concert and your favourite act plays their final song and you’re left standing there excited at how good the performance was but devastated that it is over.

The album shows huge potential for young gun Clea but listening to the whole album becomes a bit monotonous. “Grey Area” and “Dreaming” show what Clea is capable of so early in her career, and hopefully shows the direction of this already mature, introspective and unique artist.

  

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Vermillion is out on 23 November.

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