Nicole Dollanganger Heart Shaped Bed

Nicole Dollanganger Heart Shaped Bed
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Having built her brand on the juxtaposition of angelic, ethereal vocals and dark, twisted lyrics, in its wondrous beauty, Nicole Dollanganger's sixth studio album, Heart Shaped Bed, is one of her best yet. Moving swiftly from her lo-fi demos to a cleaner production, Dollanganger's genteel instrumentation complements her songwriting and voice.
 
The 2016 single "Chapel" is refurbished and polished for rerelease; this version isn't as raw as the last, but it flaunts her talent as an instrumentalist. With thundering guitar and ear-piercing kick drum, Dollanganger shifts her focus from her vocals to production, a theme throughout the record.
 
Soft piano sounds trickle in and out of "Uncle," as she softly croons "Wet with spit, red with need / Three fingers in you go deep / Reach inside me, please hide me / Somewhere they will never find me." Her radiant, high-pitched voice coats every implication of abuse. You almost don't mind the dark nature of her songwriting when it's masked with her sweet playful tone.
 
"Lacrymaria Olor" is a strong sendoff to end the record; the gentle guitar plucking and airy synthesizer has a lullaby feel, tying the entire album together.
 
Heart Shaped Bed is inviting, like a quaint Victorian-style home in a horror movie. At first glance it's charming, but when you dive deep into the details you're going to find something grim — and there's a lot of beauty in that. (Independent)