Compact Disc (CD), Vinyl LP, Vinyl
Remind Me Tomorrow is technically Sharon Van Etten’s first album in four years, although she’s certainly kept herself busy in the interim personally (the birth of her first child last year) and professionally (her recent, unexpected turn to acting, kickstarted by a starring role on the Netflix drama The OA). She also revealed in a recent interview that she demoed over 40 songs for this album, opting to record the most experimental tracks with producer John Congleton to make Remind Me Tomorrow. Here, Van Etten trades the gothic Americana instrumentation of her past records for an assortment of prepossessing synth sounds, the range of which is vast without sounding scattered or without focus. (Nor does she lose the signature darkness that’s shaded her prior work.)
“I Told You Everything” begins with a pulsating hum, contrasted quickly by a striking piano, as Van Etten sings simply, “Sitting at the bar, I told you everything… You said, ‘Holy shit.’” This casually-direct, occasionally-caustic lyrical approach has played an intrinsic role in Van Etten’s art from the start; her most recent effort, 2014’s excellent Are We There, showcased a particularly intimate feel. Remind Me Tomorrow, too, strikes a balancing act between personal pain and universal sentiment, to transcendent effect: on the B-side ballad “Malibu,” she sings of “the little red car that don’t belong to you” with a shaky conviction that is impossibly romantic. Her layered harmonies, something she’s become notable for over her career, weave with particular grace through the piano pop of “Seventeen,” her “love letter to New York,” the video for which features places important to her over the time she’s lived in the city.
Remind Me Tomorrow is a great leap into new territory for Van Etten stylistically, but there isn’t a single moment of distrust in her abilities as a songwriter to be found—nor is there any mistaking her trademark voice.