What's the use of another moody electronic project with female vocals after artists in the vein of Fever Ray and iamamiwhoami took all we might have known and twisted it to oblivion? Furthermore, how many more times can we invoke the names of Kate Bush, Elizabeth Fraser, and Beth Gibbons before they become shades or, even worse, a nomenclature for a sense of mockery? Yeah, sure, Saint Saviour has the pedigree as a singer for the live incarnation of Groove Armada, but can that really propel her solely? Apparently her debut EP, Anatomy, is supposed to be a fitting start after two singles including a lugubrious reworking of 'Love Will Tear Us Apart.' Yes, she made Joy Division sound gloomier, what with her piano + vocal rendition, all quivering vibrato (think Antony) and, eventually, choral swells to break into a brief "uplifting" bridge, bah, who do I attempt to jest with? Her rendition of a great song is enough to make me dislike this EP on principle, but I digress. It's not my style to just throw away an album and then shit talk it without at least formulating some reasoning behind my emotional response(s).

Given that her previous scant few releases to wander through my ears before her EP were mostly piano driven and so melancholy that she sounded like she was holding a razor to her wrist during the choruses, it's at least a somewhat pleasant break to be in the over-compressed throwback electronic that has been employed by such artists as the above mentioned iamamiwhoami. Unfortunately, her inflection from the get-go on opener 'This Ain't No Hymn' seems like it has been specifically tailored to imitate Jonna Lee with a hint of Karin Andersson's strident head voice. Production wise, it sounds like seventy-five other things I've heard, far from original but at the very least effective in being a vehicle for the transportation of the derivative vocalizations. 'Birdsong' glides on a basic drumbeat and irksome lead synth that could pair to at least become attention grabbing; instead it slogs through what seemed like 60 % chorus, 20% introduction and brief outro, and 20% actual verse-type material, a structure that is either extremely effective or endlessly trying. Guess what the case is here.

By what may very well be pure happenstance, the second half of this EP actually fares somewhat well. 'Reasons' showcases Saviour's rougher balladeer with hints of such vintage singers as Nicks, Lauper, Bush, and modern artists like St. Vincent and Shingai Shoniwa. Enjoyable and soppy enough, yes, but definitely the sort of bittersweet truffle you only pull out when down in the mouth or in the most inclement of days. Following hotly on the chilled trail, 'Hurricanes' stands out as the most unique track overall, not pinned to any one comparison or grouping as previous tracks have been. Vocally, the rapid post-Bolan vibrato is in full swing, but wrapped around and filling the spaces between near ambient drums (played with brushes, natch), brooding synths, and heavily treated pianos and choirs it becomes an amorphous figure in itself. Not content to be as predictable or bromidic as 'Hymn' or 'Birdsong,' nor as demanding as 'Reasons,' 'Hurricanes' commands like Nelson and gracefully cuts through its 3:36 with precision.

As frustrating as it is (eventually) rewarding, Saint Saviour's debut is as lopsided as expected for a first offering. There are obvious gaps and ample room to grow, and ultimately Saint Saviour as a project seems like the type of thing to check in on come a few more releases, followed by a revisit of these older releases I'm sure. There will be people who will undoubtedly love this instantly (and possibly decry me as a heretic), and that's fine, just keep those first two songs far away from me, please. And throw out that Joy Division cover as a bonus. But I digress. Fifty-fifty isn't always bad, it just depends on the old, tired glass adage/dilemma.