Emilie Nicolas is evidently a talented vocalist, something she has been demonstrating whilst supporting acts like Chvrches at London’s Somerset House, back in 2014. The Norwegian vocalist’s debut album Like I’m A Warrior, is filled with poetic, electronic lullabies which range from ambient and melancholy, to euphoric and upbeat. Themes of growth and development permeate the record and Nicolas’s craving to be understood by herself, and the world around her, are what make the work such a compelling listen.
Nicolas asks “What’s in your heart, my sweet Emilie?” in opening track ‘Nobody Knows’, prompting personal explorations of love and loss in following tracks. Second track ‘Let You Out’ opens with triumphant synthesisers, which are repeated and accompanied by hypnotic vocals in the chorus. It’s the strength of these vocals that make ‘Let You Out’ the stand out track on the album.
‘Grown Up’ is a lament to dependency. Nicolas’s voice is tentatively placed over mellow synthesisers which rise and fall throughout the track, culminating in the quiet but powerful affirmation: “You don’t need to hold my hand, I’ve grown up”. This leads in to ‘Melancholia’, which hosts a drum beat reminiscent of the tracks on Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, something which the opening lyric also feels like an allusion to: “I went in to the woods and got lost again”.
Departing from the underlying anxiety that make the opening tracks so interesting, ‘Fail’ and ‘Charge’ elevate the melancholy mood of the album, and re-enforce Nicolas’s creative backbone. ‘Fail’ opens with a darker, distorted synthetic sound, and has Nicolas claiming “I need to do more than humans do”. Her efforts to avoid complacency become strong and seductive, and her lyrics become bold and unapologetic: “Don’t call me lazy, I go down on him daily”. Her defiance and empowerment are echoed in following track ‘Charge’. Nicolas states: “I’m in charge now” and the strength and control in her vocals prove this. Her repeated line “You bring out the wolf in me”, which invokes lycanthropic imagery, is a further display of her artistic strength and confidence.
Nicolas’s uncertainty returns in the beautifully uneasy ‘Us’. She shares her knowledge of relationships: “All I can say is that the beginning and the end is the loneliest”, before ending the track with a quiet warning: “Bad boys won’t last for long, don’t you know that?”. ‘Pstereo’ picks up the mood slightly, with its layering of electronic drum beats and poppy chorus (the title potentially being an allusion to the Norwegian music festival of the same name.) ‘Games’ follows this track, which keeps to Nicolas’ style of quiet verses, developing in to louder choruses.
Although some tracks listed above are difficult to differentiate between (harbouring similar synthesisers and vocals), the album itself is still a visceral and energetic listen. Closing track ‘Put Me Down’ begins with a grand piano, before delving in to waves of deep synthetic sound and more of Nicolas’s hypnotic vocals. “Isn’t this my cue to leave?” she asks, prompting the listener to disagree and repeat the ten track album over, and over again.
Like I’m A Warrior is released on July 6th via Sony Music Entertainment.