In the world of electronica, it’s easy for the synthesizers and drum machines to feel monotonous and unoriginal, and for the songs to blend together due to the lack of instruments. Yet Empress Of—the solo project of Honduran-American singer Lorely Rodriguez—manages to avoid this tedium in its debut album, Me. Instead she produces a unique, trippy ‘indietronica,’ combining synths and dance beats with haunting vocals and deep, introspective lyrics.
There’s something hypnotizing about Rodriguez’s arrangements. Layers of swirling synthpop sounds build into a psychedelic experience, almost as if the listener is being dragged through the spaces of Rodriguez’s own mind. Her sonic tapestries range from a sparse framework layered beneath vocals on the album’s opener, “Everything is You,” to a plunge onto the dancefloor at an underground club in “How Do You Do It.” With her deeply intimate and personal lyrics, this sense of seeping nto her consciousness becomes stronger as the album progresses. She explores obsessive romance in “Everything Is You,” reflects on a dying relationship in “Need Myself,” and remarks on her struggle for female independence in “Kitty Kat.”
Ultimately, Rodriguez’s vocal performance is what makes the album. There is an ethereal quality to her voice that transcends the electronic beats of the musical backdrop. It provides a heavy contrast that keeps the songs engaging even when when the arrangements begin to feel repetitive. Her vocal range is dynamic and powerful, and she skillfully uses it as an element of the background arrangement sets her work apart.
True to its title, Me takes its listener on a surreal journey through its creator’s conscience. There are moments when you can hear Rodriguez’s inexperience, but her indisputable talent shows through. Me is a strong debut album, and we can be sure of hearing more from Empress Of in the future.