Almost as if apologizing for Celine Dion, Canada has produced in the last decade some of the best female artists in alternative pop. After Emily Haines of Metric, Tegan And Sara and Amy Millan of Stars, another artist, Valery Gore, makes her voice heard with Idols In The Dark Heart, her third studio album. Active since 2008, Gore is already a seasoned artist, but her sound is fresh and has plenty to be explored.

The album is a versatile and idiosyncratic work of piano pop, filled with lush instrumentation and complex compositions that distance it from the minimalism typical of the genre. It will spur listeners to draw comparisons to the artists mentioned above, but hit them with an originality that has it jumping up in every direction throughout. Lyrically, Gore tells very personal stories of past experiences, emotional struggles and relationships, and to do so she has armed herself with a formidable array of musical elements of which she displays equal mastery.

The album starts out with “With The Future” and “Chinook,” two songs that deceptively suggest the album will lean more or less in the direction of synthpop. But already with the following track “Amsterdam,” elements begin twisting and melding together in a single musical showreel, where electronics find themselves together with soulful piano and strings on “Character Girls, Quiet Girls,” saxophone and vibraphone on “July,” exotic instrumentation on “Hummingbird In Reverse,” and so on. Tempos change, instruments vary, tone sways freely, but the direction is more or less the same, and a beautiful one at that.

Idols In The Dark Heart has the freedom and personal tone of an obscure indie record, but the songcraft and creativity of the most seasoned of musicians. It is as offbeat as it is stunning, and that is perhaps the secret of its beauty.

In A Word: Unique

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