Alternative artist Dillon readies herself to release her first album for PIAS, Kind. Dominique Dillon de Byington has been making and releasing music since she was 19, demonstrating a mature approach to songwriting and an understanding of weighted topics including love and heartbreak. Veiling sentiment in obscure metaphor and poetic lyricism, she was an early hit with critics globally. The Brazilian-born, Berlin based musician has worked once again with long-term collaborator Tamer Fahri Özgönenc, along with producers Nicholas Arthur Weiss and Samuel Savenberg to create a curious third album.

The LP’s opener and title track ‘Kind’ is an instant and intriguing affair. Dillon’s quivering vocal asking questions into the sparse darkness as various distorted voices hum words of wisdom; “be kind,” “only time will tell.” Silence is used to brilliant effect, each time Dillon asks, we are left unsure who is going to answer this time. It has qualities of the wonderful ‘Delius (Song Of Summer)’ from Kate Bush. Luscious brass enhances its following track ‘Stem & Leaf’ where earthy, warming notes complement the natural metaphors that make up this track. Dillon’s voice moves between the ethereal tones of Agnes Obel to much more human diction on lines such as “pick me,” “touch me.”

Sounds that start ‘Stem & Leaf’ disappear entirely into the silence midway through, new artificial instruments replacing them, swallowing up simple piano keys and at points, even Dillon’s voice. ‘Shades Fade’ has very similar sonar, appearing as the conclusion to a ten minute opening trilogy. There is a more prominent leaning on electro, with intelligent use of space and silence to emphasise the dramatism of snare claps and moody synth strokes.

Sadly by fourth track ‘Lullaby’ this tone wears thin. We start once again with more distorted, ethereal percussion and the sounds of bells and cymbals as Dominique details moments of intimacy with a partner. Lines such as “soft as a shadow” are beautifully poetic, yet the track in general leaves very little impression. This continues throughout Kind; spoken word sixth track ‘The Present’ would not be out of place in an avant-garde art installation. Dillon pronounces proudly at the beginning of ‘Contact Us’ “I don’t sing,” yet with such an unusual tone and clear knowledge of pop structure you are yearning her to. The electro-R&B sounds hold attention, the layers are richer and the melodies generally more rewarding.

The immediacy of Woodkid-like drums that open ‘Killing Time’ feel vital as the album moves into its final throes. The quivering is still present in Dillon’s diction, but her pronunciation of the melodic hook is far more certain. The electronic instrumentation interacts succinctly with her words, creating an altogether more appealing pop proposition. This is an album of two fairly stark halves, the second being notably stronger. When Dillon utilises electronics and artificial editions on ‘Regular Movements’, she creates exhilarating and refreshing song structures. However, left to indulge all too heavily in the experimental on tracks such as ‘Lullaby’, she threatens to alienate her audience.