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Judy G.

CD of The Week

Week of 2/12/24

    Torres - What an enormous room (Merge)

    What an enormous room. What a loaded expression. Is it intended to convey wonder? Worry? Maybe both? In her decade of music as Torres, Mackenzie Scott has often conveyed her share of both awe and anxiety as she navigated the emotions that came with journeys both professional and personal. The latter took the spotlight on 2021's career-best Thirstier, allowing a newfound exuberance into her songs after finding romantic bliss. She continues to survey her circumstances with the follow-up, examining the inevitable intimidation that comes after you learn your happy ending is in fact a new beginning. A bigger room to fill, if you will.

    After Thirstier's euphoric rush, Torres finds her room filled with more complex feelings about her situation. First single "Collect" hints at darker impulses over a patiently predatory stomp. Is the chorus the manifestation of resentment? Karma? Self-sabotage? There's enough room for all of those possibilities and more in any relationship, lending a more universal pang to the proceedings. Elsewhere, "I got the fear" finds her confessing her continued worries about the world beyond her relationship, ending it on a cryptic query with no easy answer: "are we all doomed to fulfill this prophecy?" Again, ambiguity abounds about which prophecy and how big that "we" is.

    Fortunately for her, Scott seems to temper these fears and insecurities with a healthy if cautious dose of optimism. The aforementioned "fear" is laced with the empathy and even encouragement that she and her partner can find in each other, while "Jerk for joy" finds her repeating the title and following it with the bright side of "look at all the dancing I can do". Fittingly, that sentiment is backed by some of the electronic percolations she leaned into on Thirstier's more experimental moments. Opener "Happy man's shoes" is another highlight in this regard, incorporating ABBA-esque synth swirls while promising to pursue the good in a world of bad.

    More moments like these would have been welcome after how tantalizing they were previously, but it's hard to fault Torres for cranking up the murk and menace again here. It's also impressive that she can return to these darker sounds and infuse them with the light she has found since starting her journey. There will always be bigger rooms to explore, and Torres proves well-equipped to do so with the sounds and sentiments that fill this one.
    Review by Rob Huff

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