We music writers traffic in generalizations. Entrusted by you, the general public, to give advice on how to spend your hard-earned money, we are obligated to make comparisons to other, more familiar artists, in the hope that maybe it will make us easier to understand. Now, though, I find myself unable to accurately compare Azar to anything. I could say that Azar, the second album from Venice Is Sinking, is like other baroque-pop albums from bands like The Arcade Fire or Sigùr Ròs, but that wouldn’t be quite accurate. It sounds so sleepy and melodramatic, but there are also occasional hints of energetic bounciness that make it feel joyful instead of tired.
Azar defies categorization. That doesn’t mean that you will love it, but it deserves attention simply for its grand scale and finely crafted compositions that feel like miniature films. The band’s use of outdated instruments with weird names, like the Omnichord and the Boxharp, may feel like a gimmick. But so what if it is? Even if it is unnecessary, it gives the music a creepy, atmospheric edge that lends these songs intrigue and mystery.
For such a complicated and vast album, Azar is surprisingly accessible. Its melodies are sweet and richly orchestrated, and it vaults back and forth between sweeping orchestral landscapes and minimalist ballads. For those who like their music with three chords and a chorus, this album will not make you very happy, but then again, some people prefer swimming pools to surfing in the ocean. If you are looking to fall into an opium-induced coma on a delicate bed of summer flowers, Azar is as perfect an album as any you’ll sleepwalk into.