Since first appearing on the Montreal indie scene nearly 5 years ago, Helena Deland has been making dream pop that is, quite literally, reminiscent of a dream. Between a voice that ranges from feather-on-skin soft to surprisingly cutting, her distorted flavor of introspective, yet direct lyricism and pop experimentalism that both soothes and nags, Deland’s latest album Someone New contrasts her finest, and most lush, dreamscape yet.
“Quiet stars in mid-afternoon,” she trills on surreal stand-out single “Pale,” leading us into a robotic, yet warm drum machine breakdown. Everything in the world of Someone New creates — even the stars — is perfectly misplaced. On the groovier, and eerier “Comfort, Edge” she pleads, “Give me comfort, give me edge / Make it easy, make me beg” as the guitar line ungulates at a breakneck pace between intense tension and frantic release.
In the single-shot video for title track and opener “Someone New,” she sits, dramatically spotlighted and posed on a chair in the same attire and fashion as she appears on the album cover’s painting, glance averted and seemingly unaware. On one hand the viewers are almost certainly voyeurs, but Deland is also staged to be viewed, after some implication of artistic interpretation.
The experience, and delight, of Someone New is similar: the narrator’s regurgitates fears, self-loathing, relationship dynamics that feel utterly intimate and personal, but their staging is seamless, strategic, artful. Deland plays with these two forces and clash them against each other in a manner that’s as satisfying as the dissonant synths that introduce “Smoking at the Gas Station” or the dizzying vocal layering on “Truth Nugget,” and impossible not to invest yourself in.