Dillon’s sophomore album, due out next week on BPitch Control, instantly marks itself out as distinct from her previous work. Dillon’s sultry vocals continue to unnerve with their stark nudity and hurt-sounding delivery. Debut album This Silence Kills [Spotify] deployed these vocals on quirky pop similar to Iceland’s Emiliana Torrini, yet here Dillon feels like she’s drowning in a sea of electronics and it is a little more in keeping with the label where she resides.
The Unknown swells with a brooding sense of humanity and femininity, albeit with a rather futurist take. The album opens with the title track, a menacing and threatening piece that briefly puts a foreboding piano refrain and Dillon’s distinctive vocals in the foreground before a looping electronic beat shudders into life to create the sense of an immovable force that bulldozes the listener out of the way.
Lead single A Matter Of Time is an appropriate introduction to what to expect from The Unknown. Despite the tone that runs the course of this album Dillon asserts that these songs are not all delivered in melancholy - instead she sees the lyrical content as poetry, both abstract and personal at the same time. She likens The Unknown to a book of spoken words and pictures rather than a conventional album and you can actually hear that come through in the material here.
Evergreen is a good example - a humanist ballad that describes plant growth as a dead-pan delivered simile to emotional connection that is crafted into a heart-stopping piece of music. In contrast Lightning Sparked sounds like a spaceship looming out of thunderous clouds, Dillon's overt sexuality feeling robotic and electronic whilst the lyrics clinically portray sparks, eruptions and combustion. It feels like a description of the innate unpredictability and uncontrollability of our emotions and brains - soft and subjective things powered by nothing but chemicals, and it is never short of thrilling.
Most of the time Dillon isn't looking to mend a broken heart or win anyone's affection - The Unknown feels like a biography of human emotion, the kind of letter Scarlet Johansson's alien might send home in Under The Skin.
The rareness of the more directly expressive moments on The Unknown only serves to heighten their impact, the costume occasionally slipping as Dillon exposes more of her real human self. Don't Go instructs the listener - to fall onto her, to stroke her skin - the delivery as emotionally divorced as much of the rest of this album, yet their is no denying her feelings as she delivers the track's title over and over, pleading not to be left alone, the moment her emotional walls crack.
The Unknown is both alien and yet one of the most overtly human albums I've heard in a long time. Experimental yet immediate and approachable, it feels like a tribute and celebration of the complexity of our feelings and what it is to be human and, more specifically, female. And it does so with spectacular production that heightens this record and yet never, ever gets in the way.