In 2013 Eliza Hull released a critically acclaimed EP called The Ghosts You Never Catch. The lead track “Christopher” appeared on MTV’s Awkward — the funniest show on television — and she proceeded to tour with the likes of Owl Eyes, Hayden Calnin and SAFIA. She spent 2014 writing the songs that appear on The Bones of Us, collaborating with such songwriters as Tim Gordine, Gossling, Ainslie Wills and Texture Like Sun. The album was produced by Hayden Calnin and mixed by Jono Steer. And what a terrific album it is.
The album opens with “Walk Away,” an ultra-trippy if not trip-hop number that could have easily been on Tricky’s Nearly God project. With subtle synth and lovely electronic beats, it seduces the listener immediately, before Eliza even begins singing. And once she does, well, to say her syrupy voice is spell-binding is an understatement. It’s entirely mesmerizing. And a breath of fresh air.
The following track, “Caught,” is much livelier with invigorating little beats and enthusiastic hand claps driving the song, which also features some light piano. Mixed with the electronic beats are live drum beats, kicking still more life into an already upbeat song. “There’s no other way,” she sings, her voice soaring in the clouds, just above a rainbow.
The much-praised “Christopher” appears here and it’s quite the beauty to behold. “Time is on our side,” she sings, her voice sounding delicate and ethereal. There’s a sweet freeness to it, there in Eliza’s reassuring words to a loved one. It’s like a slightly less quirky CocoRosie. “I’ll be there for you,” she sings, commanding you to fall madly in love with her precious voice.
Later, Eliza’s fondness for trip-hop resurfaces on “Skeleton,” a song that wouldn’t have been out of place on FKA twigs debut. Its beats start off thick, slowly thumping along like the heartbeat of someone on medication that dramatically lowers one’s heart rate. During the chorus, we’re treated to faster, almost drum ‘n’ bass style beats, that would seem to be there to be sure the slower verses don’t lull one off to sleep.
Another highlight is “Satellite,” which immediately calls to mind Banks with its somewhat minimalist production style, which includes sparse percussive sounds and piano notes over an ’80’s style pulse of electronic beats. You can’t help but think of early Bjork when you listen to this one. In fact, Bjork’s influence is evident here and there throughout the album. Other influences might be trip-hop masters Massive Attack or French electro-pop goddess Emilie Simon. Lyrically and musically, it’s as remarkable an album as you’ll hear all year. It’s also a record that reveals its many secrets slowly, offering the listener new clues with each listen.