Kelly Lee Owens' first album, which is self-titled, has an ethereal sweetness that was first found on her 2015 EP, Lucid / Arthur. (Those tracks reappear on this album.) The floating pop of "S.O," "Keep Walking"'s spectral indie and the tambura drone-backed closer, "8," all hew to a style that sits somewhere between artists like St. Etienne and Cocteau Twins.
The other end of the record has a tougher stance and a cooler demeanor. There's the dance floor savvy of motorik tracks like "Evolution" and "CBM." "Anxi" gestures towards something similar, but monotone vocals from Jenny Hval change the mood. The album's only instrumental, "Bird," moves from symphonic pop to propulsive drums and a fat two-note bassline—the central melody is provided by the kind of resonant chimes, gongs and bowls you might hear in Tibetan music. A similar sound emerged from Pantha Du Prince's pairing with Norwegian percussion ensemble The Bell Laboratory, 2013's Elements Of Light, but Owens' take on that sound is a pitch-perfect balance of introspective spirituality and sexy movement.
Owens is an exciting new artist. Her voice is lovely. Her songwriting is accessible. Her arrangements feel smooth, and she moves with ease between styles. (The only drawback to Kelly Lee Owens is an occasional tweeness that can come with such sweet, weightless music.) She's also a master of mood. She can create an environment so specific that, after listening, you may find yourself longing to immerse yourself in it again.