There have been indications that Brutal Romantic was going to be a significant departure for Brooke Fraser. The Hillsong veteran teased us with the single “Psychosocial” leading up to the release suggesting a move into experimental electronic pop. Heck, even the title Brutal Romantic is provocative. But where does that leave fans of her signature folk-pop? Are left out in the cold wondering what happened to their favorite kiwi songstress?
Despite the reviews being all over the map between disappointment and impressed awe, there is a fairly clear consensus: this is a bold step for Fraser, and those who are wanting more of the same are not going to get it and will likely feel left behind. However, if you enjoy it when an artist expands into new areas or if you listen to Brutal Romantic with fresh ears and no preconception of Fraser’s previous work, you are likely to be rewarded.
For ourselves, we think Christa Wells nailed it with a recent tweet about the album:
“Listening to @brookefraser’s new album. Intriguing sounds. When music makes me want to write music, I think they did something right.”
“The songs are far too smart that the lyrics may just behoove the majority of Brooke’s listeners. And the metallic coating that she has on the songs may also robbed this album of its intimacy.”
“Fraser’s gamble has paid off. This is a layered, mature album that music-lovers will adore. Fraser will surely win a score of new fans in the process.”
Metro Mag (New Zealand)
“Underneath the bubbling electronic textures there’s a traditional songwriter’s muse trying to break out, but hers is a voice that sounds its best when not “enhanced” with digital processing – not just because it’s not needed, but because it’s ill-fitting.”
“It’s great to find artists who continue to push their own comfort zones musically while still delivering us songs and lyrics with depth and meaning…People want fashion, beauty and a depth of soul. They want to know that what they feel is genuine. Brooke delivers on all fronts, even if at times she uses the tension of the darkness to shine light on the beautiful things.”
New Zealand Herald
“There are still messages of salvation, empowerment, forgiveness, and political consciousness woven through her lyrics, but this new sonic palette and new-found attitude make Brutal Romantic an impressive step up, and mark the 30-year-old as a new pop star.”
Our quick review scores are provided below. Click here to learn more about our scale for Quick Reviews.