There’s a certain magic in Laufey’s music. Filled with swooning strings and gently sighing backing vocals, her lush offerings can evoke both the Great American Songbook and modern pop greats like Billie Eilish. Spinning traditional jazz and classical sounds through her own contemporary prism, she described her sound to NME in her interview for The Cover last month: “I think it’s this really beautiful middle ground that can bring generations together.”
The Icelandic-Chinese star’s second record ‘Bewitched’ enchants in its own beautiful, unique way. Richly detailed orchestral arrangements and her masterful musicality – the multi-hyphenate is an an acclaimed cellist, and studied at the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston – support her thoroughly Gen Z ripostes, with lines like: “She’s so perfect’ / Blah, blah, blah” (as she does on ‘From The Start’ ).
Following on from her 2022 debut ‘Everything I Know About Love’ – a record NME described as “an ode to the magic of life’s little moments” – here, her heart-on-sleeve lyrics are refined. On ‘Promise’, the gut-wrenching heartbreak of an inevitable breakup unravels in devastating couplets, with Laufey admitting: “It hurts to be something / It’s worse to be nothing with you”. Following a similar approach to her contemporaries Olivia Rodrigo and Holly Humberstone, Laufey flits between vivid details (a pale pink bouquet on ‘While You Were Sleeping’, rose perfume on ‘Haunted’) and overwhelming feelings of love and loss, rich stories playing out in just a few minutes.
The title track is resplendent with soaring strings and orchestral twinkles, the arrangement evocative of an Alan Menken score; and ‘California And Me’ comes with similarly expansive orchestration (courtesy of the Philharmonia Orchestra). Recent TikTok hit ‘From The Start’, meanwhile, is based around swaying bossa nova riffs, the lively jazz-pop tune complete with some scatting.
Throughout, Laufey’s impressive technical ability shines, whether that’s on the wordless ‘Nocturne (Interlude)’, which channels romantic piano concertos, or with her distinctive vocals that recall icons of the past. On the hushed ‘Letter To My 13 Year Old Self’, Laufey uses her lower register to deliversa musical letter to her teenage self. “Keep on going with your silly dream / Life is prettier than it may seem” she sings over a subtle accompaniment, adding: “One day you’ll be up on stage, little girls will scream your name”. Claiming space with her take on the music of classical legends of years gone by mixed with something more modern, up on that stage is where Laufey’s destined to be.
- Release date: September 8
- Record label: AWAL