When j.knife put out familiar sounds on Bandcamp, I was surprised at the speed she released it. The two singles she released in September were a good preview and now that she has released her first full length, it’s time to get a sense of what j.knife is all about. The first thing that sticks out is that the singles she previously released are not the best songs on the album. That speaks volumes of how surprised I was with familiar sounds.
“is there any way you could change?” is one of the best songs of 2017. It’s melancholy, borrows a lot from Julien Baker, and still sounds totally original. Even though it’s different to hear all the vocals all the time, j.knife is able to blend with the guitar and not be entirely drowned out. I think the difficulty to hear the vocals makes you focus a lot more. familiar sounds is not an album that you listen to in the background. It’s an album that you sit in front of your speakers or through your headphones and hear one of the best new voices in music. I’m also not saying that j.knife is the most original artist in composition and her influences come across plainly, but the denseness and weight of the tracks at her age only make me more excited as she grows moving forward.
I don’t know if she’s unsure of herself, but I really want to hear her be more confident in her vocals. I feel like even though they might not be perfect pitch, it’s impossible to deny that they are addictive. This along with her interesting instrumentation, which combines slightly weird melodies and effects, result in very engaging music. “i’m still alive” should be the lead single on familiar sounds. This is partially because it’s the track where you can hear her voice rather easily, but also the instrumentation includes pretty much everything that represents j.knife in terms of audio.
The 11 track debut full length does more than introduce j.knife as an artist. It shows that there’s no limit of what can be created by yourself. With familiar sounds as a single vision, j.knife has something unique. If she collaborates with other musicians, the individuality of her perspective could get lost, but at the same time, expand on what she can do. familiar sounds is only the first step, but this debut is better than the majority of first releases.