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Review | “Moves balletically through a well-woven web of post-modernist pop” Clara Tracey – Black Forest

The Last Mixed Tape reviews Black Forest, the debut album from Clara Tracey.

Photo credit: Katie Freeney

Black Forest moves balletically through a well-woven web of post-modernist pop. In the debut album from Clara Tracey, the artist collects myriad genre-blending flourishes to deliver something part noir, part psychedelic but wholly themselves. 

Bookended by the darkly lit motifs, ‘Russian Gymnast I & II’, Black Forest musically takes an anachronistic shape. Tracey channels Gainsbourg-esque French pop with ‘Soap Girls’, moving effortlessly from this abstract modernist opening. Indeed, there’s a thread of art nouveau to the album itself. 

Clara Tracey weaves a spell throughout Black Forest. ‘Strange Flowers’ cuts and deconstructs itself within four minutes. Moving from dreamlike vocals to distant piano expressions and finally into a pulsating psychedelic freak-out section that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Jean-Luc Godard film. Songs like ‘Little Bird’, with its warping backdrop, and the jangled retro-pop ‘Baby Witch’ follow suit. Adding to Black Forest’s stylistic milieu. 

Black Forest reaches its zenith with ‘Jane Birkin’. Named for the 60s icon, ‘Jane Birkin’ revels in the playful French pop that resonates throughout Black Forest. Whirling synths, breathy vocal harmonies and catchy pop passages all converge with Tracey adding a layer of atmospheric abstraction to the song’s core. 

And so it goes, Black Forest could play out as a Nouvelle Vague film score, heard in crowded cafés, Parisian streets and small party balconies as it follows our protagonist’s journey captured in black and white. Black Forest is compelling in its abstraction of retroelements through Clara Tracey’s artistic prism. A stylish culmination of influences and flourishes, Tracey’s debut carves out an identity of its own. 


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