Gordi – Our Two Skins (Jagjaguwar)
LP | CD | DL
With Our Two Skins, Gordi builds on the strengths of her last album, delivering a moving collection of songs about relationships. Elliott Simpson reviews.
Second albums can be tricky things. Many artists get stuck trying to strike a balance between doing what’s worked in the past and trying something new. It’s often a make-or-break moment; a chance to prove that they have real staying power as an artist.
With Our Two Skins, Gordi succeeds at striking that balance. It’s an album that carries over the best elements from her first album Reservoir, while pushing her sound forward in a new direction.
The main thing that separates the album from its predecessor is just how understated and stripped back much of it is. While Reservoir frequently indulged in big pop moments, they’re far and few between here. Opener Aeroplane Bathroom acts as a mood setter: a stripped-back piano ballad, featuring whispered, confessional vocals. It’s gorgeous and intimate, serving almost as a prologue to the album that follows.
Many of Our Two Skins’ best moments follow a similar formula. Gordi is at her best when she avoids overcrowding things. The muted Radiator places all the focus on Gordi’s voice, while Volcanic circles around a lonely electronic beep until it reaches its fittingly eruptive finish.
There’s also the bright and summery Extraordinary Life, which pulls to the surface the Bon Iver-like folk influence that’s always existed in Gordi’s sound. Coloured by finger-picked chords and breathy vocal harmonies, it reconstructs her established sound in a new way.
Lyrically, the album is a step up as well. Relationships sit at the core of Our Two Skins, with many of its songs acting as small anecdotes – snapshots into the various relationships that make up Gordi’s life. Each song feels personal and specific: Sandwiches deals with memories of lost friends, while Limits traces the beginning of a relationship from a story about hiding a bottle of Malbec under her coat.
There are a handful of bigger moments on the album such as Unready, easily the most single-ready song here. Built-up from a manipulated vocal loop and pounding drums, it feels huge without ever risking becoming overblown. Used sparingly, the big moments always feel earned here.
Our Two Skins feels like the truest set of songs that Gordi has put out yet. Her songwriting is as sharp as ever and the production is always superb, if not a little too clean sometimes. It’s a bold and rewarding step forward – everything you could want from a second album.
You can find Gordi online here.