Some musicians make cinematic albums that feel like a musical score for the stories only they can fully understand, but their fans can feel and relate to. Melbourne-based musician and singer Desiree Cameron, better known by her stage name Dzirè, has released one of those records this year. The 5-track EP is entitled Rectify and shows a dark industrial brand of Alternative pop with heavy subject matter that’s usually not found in commercial pop music. It took me three or four listens to wrap my head around all the crazy arrangements and ominous vocal style.
The EP starts with the track Belong, which was previously released as the record’s lead single. The track showcases dark vocals that are mostly sung in the contralto/mezzo area, in which the low notes are strong and grounded and the high notes feel thick and powerful. The eccentric and passionate technique Dzirè sings with may remind some people of Lana Del Rey’s dark vibes, but with the added raspiness and the predominant use of chest voice, making you feel her confidence and knowledge of the scales she writes her songs in. As for the instrumentation, the track has some orchestral synths, drums, and keyboard lines in an arrangement that leaves the spotlight for the vocals to shine.
The second track, Rectify, begins with creepy dark synths and a repeating sample that sounds like a horn that’s playing off-key. It made me visualize a chaotic dystopian city that’s on the brink of destruction, or a jungle full of wild animals fighting one another. Which I guess was the theme of the song’s lyrics as well, I couldn’t tell for a fact as the lyrics have some ambiguity to them. The song has a smooth electronic bass line which was a great organic aspect amidst the industrial dissonant noises.
The third track, Moment Of Silence, shows clear socio-political commentary in its lyrics, with actual electric guitars that we can hear for the first time hear. The song’s second half has an electronic pop beat that feels like a rave is starting in the middle of a dysfunctional society. One of the most beautifully experimental songs I’ve ever heard. The grit Dzirè adds to her voice as she screams and shouts her high notes is second to none.
The fourth track, Tropical Sin, begins with a piano, weeping vocals, and heart-shattering lyrics. You can tell it’s a very personal song for Dzirè. After the verse is done, the drums kick in and a dancy vocal line makes for an upbeat chorus. It’s as if the song’s arrangement represents a damaged and cast-out woman that slowly learns to dance t9 the beat of her drum and adapt to survive in this destructive society that abused her. The part that made this track an instant favorite for me was the recurring line:
“Take my arms
Take my legs
No one’s gonna feel this way
I’ve been talking with the pastor
At my grave, my disaster”
This is my favorite track here by far. The emotional weight and honesty it has, the clean guitar after the choruses followed by the dramatic and heart-wrenching piano during the verses make it a very easy song to emotionally relate to.
The fifth and final track, Gun Love, is another synth-heavy industrial track. The way Dzirè mixed her vocals here reminds me a bit of Annie Lennox, and the fast drum beat is a nice juxtaposition with the relatively slow throat singing. The effect on the vocals makes them a little bit muffled, which added to the song’s creepiness.
In any event, Rectify is not the kind of album you’ll be searching for and then finding, but rather a surprising experimental record that will make your jaw drop to the floor. I was a little overwhelmed at first by how avant-garde and highly experimental the sound of the EP was, but the moment I heard the guitars on Moment Of Silence and the vocals of Tropical Sin, I began to understand how Dzirè has a vision and direction to make a dark record with versatile elements. From the heaviness of the subject matter to the heaviness of the music itself, this record is not your everyday wannabe 90’s diva making a bubblegum-pop record to get some radio play. This is an expressive and brave musician who didn’t shy away from her experimentation and creativity and that, in my opinion, is what makes this EP stand out.