words by Alex Milne

Hailing from Greece with her distinctive brand of electro-pop, ∑tella embodies the husky vocals of Stevie Knicks, the funky idiosyncratic attitude of HAIM and the catchy riffs of Vampire Weekend. Her melodies are genius in their simplicity and she expertly layers sound without overdoing it in their complexity.

With a few collaborations already under her belt ∑tella has finally taken off on her own. In her debut, self-titled album ∑tella has not only produced the tracks herself, but played all the instruments on her own as well. The album is a combination of the upbeat and the melancholy, an impressive effort for her debut.

‘Picking Words’ is a strong opening track that has been a radio favourite. Reminiscent of the sounds of Fleetwood Mac it offers thumpy bass and emotive vocals. ‘The Map’ is, in my opinion, the best song on the album. It has Vampire Weekend style riffs and an upbeat pace. The bass is plucky and fresh and the overall effect gives a feeling similar to Gypsy and the Cat.

‘Detox’ really knocks it out of the ballpark. The synth adds fresh flavour and demonstrates variation in ∑tella’s sound that keeps it interesting. ‘Repeat’ is a clapping, bopping, groovy tune with a quick tempo. It’s harmonies and layering demonstrates the prowess of ∑tella’s musicianship. The lyricism is sophisticated with the memorable line “kissing, slapping, choking, dancing” – dark lyrics that contrast sharply with the positive vibes of the melody.

Although the vocals in ‘Waiting on Me’ are strong, the song seems to drag and jar somewhat in comparison to the drive and harmony of the preceding tracks. ‘Made to Attack’, ‘Wet Cigarette’ and ‘Last Minute Boy’ are more of the same, and could have been easily spared from the album.

∑tella goes back to basics in the penultimate and final tracks, delivering solid songs to end her collection on.

Overall the album does most of the good work in the first four tracks. The rest seems to lose traction. With an album consisting of ten tracks, she could have meshed some of her ideas together to make fewer songs, but of better quality. This is still a fantastic debut album and I can’t wait to see what the years hold for ∑tella.

Rating: ★★★

Σtella will be available from Inner Ear Records on February 24.

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