Laurel Halo’s LP, Quarantine, is in my top five albums of the year; it’s also easily one of the best I’ve heard in the last five years, if only for its brave undertaking of letting “machines” express emotion in novel ways. On her LP, the machines do more than transmit a semblance of emotion — the artificial intelligence emotes in a world where Halo has literally quarantined herself her surroundings, where “rules stagnate” and “words are just words/that you soon forget.”
In Quarantine, she advocates to not get “addicted to anything, forward motion is the only answer,” but the tone of the music and the lyrics paradoxically found her in a constant loop — as Fiona Apple would put it, lost in “the waves of the blue of [her] oblivion.” Quickly you learn that the machines are her emotions by proxy, and once you do, it’s both an exhilarating and frightening album that captures that moment of unbearable drudgery before rebirth.
But in “Sunlight on the Faded,” her first single since Quarantine, the sonic loops find Halo escaping oblivion where “only the best memories stay, I just want those on loop forever.” The instrumentation cracks open her claustrophobic emotional space for light on a faded mind — and whereas the machines in Quarantinewere a tool for a silhouette of a person to feel again, in “Sunlight on the Faded” they evoke rays of warm light on a sea of sunflowers overgrowing in a city wracked by nuclear holocaust. In the single, she debates herself, saying, “Do you really think that you matter? I see an unknown,” and eventually, after much handwringing, the music fades out for a moment and she decides that she does. It’s a glorious moment.
“Sunlight on the Faded” is a beautiful transition into her new work, recognizing both the achievement of Quarantine and growing her fan base on her very personal journey (and certainly one that many of her listeners can continue to deeply identify with as well). Check out more at her SoundCloud.