Back in 2016, while the likes of the Chainsmokers and Drake were topping the charts with heavy future bass and dancehall tracks, Norwegian singer-songwriter, Aurora, quietly released her magical debut album All My Demons Greeting Me As A Friend.
While Aurora has been compared to the surrealism of Bjork combined with the melodic synth-pop of Ellie Goulding, All My Demons surely proved her as an indescribably unique pop force to be reckoned with.
After her cover of Oasis’ ‘Half The World Away’ appeared on the 2015 John Lewis Christmas advert, Aurora began to gain more attention. When her album was released, it gained favourable reviews from critics but was often perceived as too surface-level to evoke any emotional responses. However, it was the fanbase (whom Aurora calls her “warriors and weirdos”) that she quickly gained that showed the true response to the album; go to any Aurora concert and you will see hundreds of people entranced by this alien-like woman dancing on the stage, moved to silence by her ethereal vocals.
It is hard to describe the magic of this album, and even harder to understand the 19-year-old behind it. Sonically, All My Demons is a pop record, complete with uplifting hits like ‘Conqueror’ and other more chilled folk-inspired tracks such as ‘Runaway’. Lyrically, the record could not be further away from the themes of 2016 pop: while Mike Posner took a pill in Ibiza, Aurora dreamed of drowning in ‘Under The Water’; while Zara Larsson sang of dancing all summer, Aurora wished to see the harsh world ‘through the eyes of a child’.
Aurora herself is aware of the dark themes of this album – in various interviews and concerts, she has struggled to describe the conflicting melodic and lyrical themes of the record, often telling listeners that she wants them to decide for themselves what it means. For example, ‘I Went Too Far’ sounds at first like a catchy pop song about love. However, listen closer and you will hear a song about a person struggling with an identity that craves to be loved, contrasted against one that wishes to be independent.
Love is a consistent theme on the record, but not in the way that you might expect. Aurora often displays the seismic effects of love on the human race – in ‘Warrior’, she sings ‘let love conquer your mind’, compelling her listeners to become warriors of love, sharing it with other human beings in everything they do.
Other songs are more ambiguous in their message, taking ideas that wouldn’t seem out of place in a fantasy novel. ‘Murder Song’ sounds as gruesome as it is, telling the story of the difficult things that people have to do to protect the ones they love.
All My Demons showed a profound understanding of life and death from such a young artist and presented Aurora as the beginning of a new kind of emotional pop for a new kind of listener.
Listen to Aurora’s ‘Conqueror’ below: