Release Date: Oct 18, 2011
Record label: Carpark Records
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Class Actress is the moniker for Brooklyn singer-songwriter Elizabeth Harper, but this definitely isn’t her first venture into the music industry. Harper had released a solo record under her own name back in 2005, but it wasn’t until she hooked up with electronic producer Mark Richardson that her songs were really given the proper vehicle to set herself apart in the indie music world. Class Actress first started garnering Internet buzz with wonky remixes of songs by Neon Indian and The xx, setting the stage for her EP from 2010 and now her debut album, Rapprocher.
The most impressive thing on Class Actress' debut full-length album Rapprocher is the voice of Elizabeth Harper. Her rich, powerful, not to mention thoroughly enchanting vocals give the retro-synth pop sound a strength and impact that eludes most bands who chart a similar musical course. Of course, without songs and a decent overall sound, an amazing voice is just an amazing voice.
In her guise as the frontwoman of Class Actress, Elizabeth Harper appears to be going great guns to cultivate a public persona. This is acceptable behaviour, as Class Actress make painstakingly stylised analogue synth-pop with dramatic lyrics about failed or tempestuous relationships, and this is a sphere where a fantasy world can fuel great work. However, you have to really like Rapprocher, their debut album, for it to come off; if you find these 11 songs shallow and unedifying, chances are you’ll have a similarly adverse reaction to press photos of Harper in suspenders and interview quotes like 'My undergarments are usually more expensive than my jewellery.
L.A. sunshine doesn’t exactly inspire tales of Ultravox-ian alienation and paranoia. So here’s Class Actress, with Elizabeth Harper lamenting contemporary horrors like getting her ass off to work. (“Bring on the weekend!” she rallies. Seriously, girl.) Still, the music is alive with all the ….
The musical past of Elizabeth Harper, the frontwoman for Brooklyn electronic pop outfit Class Actress, is fairly well-documented-- it's something even the band doesn't attempt to hide. And yet, with the arrival of Class Actress's debut full-length, Rapprocher, that past seems worth pointing out again, if only to illustrate the drastic turn her career's taken over the past eight or so years. In 2004, years before Class Actress came into existence, Harper released a self-titled solo album of singer/songwriter-y material with no spangly synths.
Back in 2004 Brooklyn-based songstress Elizabeth Harper released an album of country-tinged indie rock and pastoral folk. No wonder, then, that her transformation last year into a full-blown electro pop siren with Journal of Ardency had a slightly opportunistic air. Nonetheless, the lo-fi-ness of its sound and the quality of the songcraft somehow legitimized the entire conversion; on that EP, she even dared to venture a seven minute-long synthetic abstract jam with "Someone Real," which signaled the possibility of further studio-bound experimentations.
Elizabeth Harper is a folk singer who traded her six-string for entry to the discotheque. This, her debut, attempts to meld the trace-paper beats of chillwave with the predatory attitude of ’80s funk-pop. It’s a hit and miss affair. ‘[b]Weekend[/b]’ finds her confessional singer-songwriter background lining up to the jittery beats with the right amount of awkward grace like some cross between [a]Feist[/a] and [a]Glass Candy[/a]’s Ida No.
Roughly translated, “rapprocher” means “to beckon” in French, which adequately describes the jump in mood between Class Actress’s Journal of Ardency EP to her debut full-length. The former was somewhat intriguing but ultimately one-note; every brooding, clicking track sounded almost the same as the one before, beset by somber but cutesy refrains about adolescent hearts and nights on the town and the misunderstandings of a shy romantic. Since then, Elizabeth Harper, the flesh and blood behind Class Actress’s carefully crafted Bohemian persona, has eschewed her previously bashful demeanor for a slinky, smokey-eyed pose.
What exactly is Elizabeth Harper playing at? Well that is, other than becoming another entry in the "pretty women who can hold a reasonable tune" file. Her new album under the Class Actress moniker is painfully dull and ridiculously over-wrought (admittedly a clever trick), a facsimile of 1980s style-with none of the conviction. .
Class Actress’ debut LP, Rapprocher, gives listeners two options for dealing with love trials. The first encourages you to sit in a room with the lights off contemplating the relationships of your past. The second suggests that you take those sad-ass feelings to a bar to dance until you finish an entire bottle of tequila or until the lights come on—whichever comes first.