I'd wager that Laurel Halo's debut album for Hyperdub was so divisive partly because of its extreme contrasts. On Quarantine, starkly naked vocals soared above a mucky landscape of shifting greys and muted colours; the effect isn't really any less jarring half a year later. "Sunlight on the Faded" is her first missive since that album, and it feels like a coda linking her recent work to older, friendlier tracks like "Metal Confection"—and it might just be one of the most gorgeous things she's ever made.
The jangling metallic sound that signals "Sunlight" has an intense oscillation a million miles away from the still of Quarantine. It doesn't end there; the instrumental breathes in and out with an unprecedented sense of control, like a meadow of flowers blooming open and shut. Every sound is arrestingly natural, converting the old strange sludgy brew of machines into something that sounds grand and celebratory, high off its own fragrant fumes. Her vocals still twirl in strange pirouettes, but now they're dueling with exuberant string outbursts, and the stunning self-harmonizing on the chorus shows the classical power sometimes hidden in her voice. A longer instrumental version reveals all the little twists and turns her voice tends to smother, almost as captivating in its skittish quiet-loud dynamic.