Gordi ups her game on her debut full-length Reservoir.Jagjaguwar, 2017
7.3 / 10
When reviewing Clever Disguise, the debut EP from Sophie Payten, aka Gordi, I noted that her lyrics often fell short of the EP’s massive production. Still, there was plenty of potential for her to progress as an artist. And she does just that with her debut full-length, Reservoir, which arrives over a year later. Here, Gordi’s lyrics come on strong, and it even seems as though she knows this herself. In the album’s press, she made the following statement:
Lyrics to me are everything. Music is kind of what encases this story that you’re trying to tell. The music is obviously what makes people fall in love with a song first, but what eventually speaks to people, whether they know it or not, is the actual words that are being said.
Another thing worth noting is that her songs don’t necessarily revolve around romantic relationships. Still, those kinds of assumptions will likely be made, but they won’t always true. “Heaven I Know” is one such song where Gordi is singing about a friend who has moved away and their relationship is beginning to feel the strain of the long distance. Turmoil proves to be a go-to resource for her songwriting as well. On “Can We Work It Out”, Gordi confronts an unavoidable conflict. She sings, “Forgetting you is like ignoring the weather.”
Aside from the album’s stronger lyric-writing, the arrangements on Reservoir are even more impressive than Clever Disguise. For Reservoir, Gordi worked with Tim Anderson (Solange/Banks), Ali Chant (Perfume Genius/PJ Harvey) and Alex Somers (Sigur Ros). This group helps build the songs with subtle, interesting elements, which add layers of complexity. Though she’s from Australia, Gordi sounds almost Nordic among the icy arrangements.
The anthemic “On My Side” uses her vocals to create these weird otherworldly yelps that feel cold and haunted. However, they’re not as chilly or creepy as her chant of “123” on “Heaven I Know”. From this chant, it grows into this massive song with horns coming into the mix and Gordi manipulating her vocals with autotune for another texture. Turns out that Gordi produced this one by herself, which only speaks stronger of her progression since it’s the best song here. But she’ll likely surpass it with her next album.