The dark, sensual and intense pop grooves of Miss FD have made her a perennial favorite at FEARnet, and her 2011 album Love Never Dies contained her most haunting music to date. Her new project, Comfort for the Desolate, represents the next chapter in an ever-evolving body of work, which sees each album capturing moments, emotions and reflections as an “audio diary.” While the songs in Love Never Dies channeled intense feelings of loss and despair, the seven tracks here represent a step beyond the ideas of hope or hopelessness, of fate, even existence itself – choosing instead to embrace the here and now. Of course we don't want to get too lost in subtext, because FD's unique brand of dark electro-pop is also hooky as hell, and her smooth vocals are often served with a dash of mischief (her wickedly cute Halloween singles and videos are case in point). But if you understand there's a distinct story unfolding within this album, you can enjoy Comfort for the Desolate on multiple levels.
Even the title of opening track "Never Felt Better" suggests an emotional sea-change, and the song delivers on that idea with a tense transition that gives way to exhilarating, multi-tracked vocal harmonies but remains beat-free, letting guitar and piano control the rhythm and turning slightly discordant toward the end. It feels like a cleansing process, clearing a path for the energized “Wanting Is Not Enough," one of the more intense dance tracks on the album, launching into a bright but insistent beat and high, sparkling vocals. The tone then darkens considerably for the superb "Dissolve," a pulsing and cinematic piece with a gentle main vocal but a disturbing synth line and eerie, distant siren wails. It's one of the moodiest high-tempo tracks in FD's catalog, and one of my favorites. Check it out here:
The vocals dip into a surprisingly low range for the pensive "Consciousness of Awe," which takes on a ceremonial feel (befitting the lyrical themes about the nature of existence), aided by bell tones and a subtle trace of piano, breaking into a light, airy beat at the midpoint. The kicks hit hard again in the more straightforward dance track "Lover of Fate," which maintains its edge through a more menacing vocal delivery. Dark vibrations create an undercurrent for the somber meditation "Incompleteness," with multiple vocal layers alternating rough and silky textures. A surprising coda comes in “The Grand Version," where FD demonstrates a much broader, even more theatrical vocal range, backed by a light string accompaniment by frequent collaborator Robert Dante (who also supplied backing vocals on “Dissolve”) and a plaintive piano pattern.
While Love Never Dies demonstrated that Miss FD could create a deeply melancholy atmosphere without sacrificing solid pop melodies and rhythms, Comfort injects a greater sense of urgency into those elements; and while only half of the songs here are beat-driven, you can still feel the momentum behind each one. At seven tracks, it's a fairly short record compared to her debut album Monsters in the Industry, but the storytelling is just as intense and fat-free, and high-energy tracks like the phenomenal “Dissolve” will keep your pulse pounding.
Comfort for the Desolate is now available via iTunes, Amazon and other CD & digital vendors, or you can also purchase it directly from Miss FD's BandCamp page.