Indie Music

Torres: What An Enormous Room review – a confident declaration of rock-star ambition

Beyond making an early case for 2024’s best title, What An Enormous Room finds Torres approaching full rock star mode and making a confident declaration of ambition. “The me of yesterday hadn’t a clue!” she proclaims on the opener to her sixth album over a marching, metallic guitar riff. “Babe, my star’s just on the rise.”

It has been a decade since the indie rock musician (real name Mackenzie Scott) released her self-titled debut of hushed, blazingly vulnerable songs. She’s since embraced grander theatrics, a wider sonic palette and the ferocity in her deep, commanding voice. Recent single and noirish revenge fantasy Collect flexes all of that power. “Did I hit a nerve?” she demands of her pitiable foe, over stabbing piano chords and furious, squealing distortion. On Wake to Flowers she reaps the rewards of this self-confidence, basking with her lover in the morning light. The drums kick in, along with a bassy guitar line, and the song erupts into bold, grateful euphoria: “Is this my life? I’m surprised, I’m surprised!”

Against such decisive singles, many of the record’s softer tracks – such as the murky Artificial Limits – feel uncharacteristically cautious. Surprising, given that Torres’s versatility is usually her strength: Jerk Into Joy is oddly staid despite its moving narrative. What An Enormous Room doesn’t yet fulfil Torres’s stadium-sized promises, but form and ambition align on album highlight I Got the Fear. Powerfully claustrophobic, this whispered ballad about battling sudden panic could hold any room enthralled.

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