Following Chelsea Wolfe’s career often feels like one of those dreams where you’re trailing some playful, puckish figure who’s always rounding the next corner before you can fully glimpse them. A chameleonic, magpie-like approach has seen her mix and match from a wide range of sounds, freely drawing from folk, goth, industrial and avant-metal while casting ideas nonchalantly aside only to reintegrate them at later dates.
It’s fitting, then, for such a mercurial artist that She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She should deal with cycles of transformation and rebirth. Opener Whispers In The Echo Chamber has Chelsea proclaim ‘I’ve shed a thousand skins since then,’ and herein you’ll find evidence of her past lives, from the industrial-leaning lurk of 2015’s Abyss to more recent soundtrack work with composer (and Marilyn Manson collaborator) Tyler Bates.
This is a very different beast to the hushed, intimate Americana of 2019’s Birth Of Violence. The icy electronica that quietly dappled that release has exploded into the foreground here, while unadulterated, rawk crunch and the influence of 90s industrial dancefloor fillers all swirl around Chelsea’s distinctive voice.
At heart, though, She Reaches… is perhaps best viewed as a carefully layered art-pop record that has more in common with Tori Amos circa From The Choirgirl Hotel, David Bowie’s Blackstar or that one video where Madonna transforms into a murder of crows.
These latter influences give the album an air of familiarity, albeit filtered through the prism that has garnered Chelsea so many fans to date. From the playful plink and infectious pulse of Eyes Like Nightshade and the sultry creep of The Liminal through to the orchestral sweep of Unseen World, it’s dense and engagingly dramatic: an enveloping paean to grabbing for one’s own future with both hands and running headfirst to meet it.
She Reaches Out To She Reaches Out To She is out February 9 via Loma Vista