In trying times, there is catharsis in existential horror. No album in 2018 comes close to being as suffocating and as bleakly humorous than Marie Davidson’s latest album Working Class Woman, released this month on Ninja Tune. Davidson’s bonafides are unquestioned: she has appeared on DFA, CitiTrax, and HOLODECK among other labels and her mastery of exquisite sound design are on full display on this album.
Working Class Woman is an album that pulls no punches, plunging into the nightmarish hall of mirrors of “Your Biggest Fan” right from the jump. Dual spoken word passages narrate uneasy fan encounters before and after shows, toss insults at the artist, and question whether Davidson’s accent is real. The opener is both darkly funny and deeply disconcerting, a dichotomy that comes up again and again throughout the album.
“Your Biggest Fan” leads into the album’s first slyly ironic rave up “Work It.” The crisp drum machine rhythm recalls 80s EBM where physical exertion is prized while Davidson taunts the listener with commands with the promise of self-betterment. “From Monday to Friday / Friday to Sunday / I love it / I work.” Its equal parts whip-smart snark and an uneasy YouTube self-help simulacrum.
A great mood resetting moment happens mid-album with “The Tunnel” whose barren soundscape sounds like a horror movie trailer and is matched by a heavily reverbed, claustrophobic vocal that straddles the line between comedy and dread. Two tracks later is a release by way of “So Right,” a hopeful synth-pop late night showstopper with a properly hooky vocal from Davidson. For five minutes, the mist parts and there is fleeting relief.
This album is the rare work of electronic music that adheres to a distinct singular theme from tone to lyrics to the artwork for the album and its digital singles. For as gloomy as the album is on the surface, there is very much a sense of levity and even escapism from the mundane portrait the album paints of modern life.