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Mozart's Sister (Caila Thompson-Hannant): Being

Album Reviews:

Pitchfork (Website) - "She's an apt student of tech and vocal tricks, swooping from sotto voce to a diva-like belt at a single hook's notice."

Album Notes

Montreal-based vocalist/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Caila Thompson-Hannant spent a lot of time playing with various indie acts in her scene, touring and recording over her formative years with bands such as Miracle Fortress, Think About Life, and Shapes and Sizes. Around 2011 Thompson-Hannant branched off on her own with solo project Mozart's Sister, a finely crafted exploration of fuzzy electro beats and hooky songs brewed up with all the trappings of vintage '80s synth pop and early-'90s radio R&B. A 2013 EP entitled Hello saw some of the first offerings of this sound, with songs that felt meticulously poured over and whittled into a state of off-kilter pop perfection. First full-length Being continues on the strengths of the Hello EP, with 11 songs that feel equally composed, strangely conceived, and delivered from a place one part pop and one part complete experimental abandon. Unfortunately, many listeners will instantly compare Mozart's Sister to her best-known contemporaries, Grimes and tUnE-yArDs. There are similarities, easily picked out in the sinister synth bass and huge, simple electro beats that guide most songs. Thompson-Hannant's voice sometimes sounds remarkably close to Grimes' high-pitched elfin breathiness, especially in the backing vocals of tracks like "Lone Wolf," which come close to impersonation territory. A much closer comparison, however, could be drawn between Mozart's Sister's mutant version of sophistipop and the smooth, twisted R&B stylings of fellow Montreal performer Sean Nicholas Savage. Both artists have a fearless approach to creating glowing pop songs from disparate elements, such as the slack-key guitar samples and grating drum machine/vocal samples of "A Move" or the throwback keyboard tones and minimal drum machine programming of the Prince-like album standout "Salty Tear." Being throws an incredible amount of sounds into the mix, but the production successfully boils everything down into an accessible, easily digested final product. At this point, the great tracks are incredible and the rest are not too bad, but Being is strong enough as a whole to offer hope that Mozart's Sister is a project still finding its voice, with even better work ahead. ~ Fred Thomas


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