Painting the Roses is an album like no other. Mixing together old and new, Midnight Sister has managed to create an entire new genre of experimental pop with influences from old movie soundtracks. They bring in disco, soul, classical, alternative pop, and so many others to bring this album together. The Midnight Sister duo, Julianna Giraffe and Ari Balouzian, both have quite an artistic background in Los Angeles, which can be heard through in the music they make.
Painting the Roses is Midnight Sister’s sophomore album. Released four years after their debut album, Saturn Over Sunset, it is evident that their sound has matured and really become their own. The duo shows their willingness to take risks and create outside of the box. I love how they are able to effortlessly jump from a fantasyland vibe to a funky disco track with this release. They do not hold back with Painting the Roses and it makes for a collection of gems.
I am really impressed by the writing and composition of this album. Midnight Sister is able to blend vocals and instrumentals in a way that complement each other, never taking away from what needs to be in the spotlight. Giraffe’s vocals are able to morph into any style and sound elegant with every line she sings. Her voice is raspy in a soulful way, but pierces through when it needs to, specifically in “Sirens”. Balouzian’s keys and strings are what create the familiar movie soundtrack sound, coming through in songs such as “Painting the Roses” and “Escalators”. They are written in a way that offer such strong emotion while still guiding you through the song effortlessly. Creating spark and drama, the album also includes horns, accordion, clarinet, pedal steel guitar, and percussion. Having a full band behind the duo is what makes this album stand out. Never a dull moment, Midnight Sister provides a soundtrack for your life with this release.
I have had a hard time choosing my favourite track, but I think I am landing on “Elevator Song”. It includes so much contrast between the elegant strings and eerie vocals, but manages to stay somewhat peaceful throughout. Percussion as well as clarinet add to the drama, which explode at various times during the track. I absolutely love “Elevator Song” and have yearnings to watch an old indie film after listening to it. It is unique, dramatic, and refreshing in a way that is both soothing and exciting.
Another stand-out song is “Sirens”, which dials up the funk and makes you want to let loose and bust out some moves. Featuring horns and a seriously groovy bass line, Midnight Sister had a clear vision for this song and executed it perfectly. I urge you to turn it on and try not to dance. I think it may be impossible to resist tapping your foot or bobbing your head. They have done a really wonderful job of creating their own disco track.
Other noteworthy mentions include a soulful ballad called “Foxes”, the funky and somewhat classical composition for “Escalators”, and the catchy lyrics and depth of Giraffe’s vocals in “Doctor Says”. “Foxes” is definitely one of my favourites because of the playful soul it brings to the album. It blends old soul with modern pop , which suits Giraffe’s voice well. “Escalators” has beautiful strings that give the song a really nice foundation. They add a sense of elegance from their classical feel, and are complemented by the funkier bass line. Lastly, “Doctor Says” showcases Giraffe’s versatile and dramatic voice. She leans into her lower range in the chorus and melts your heart with the emotion she brings. Being the opening track on the album, it gives a taste of what is to come with her theatrical vocals.
If you’re into fun movie soundtracks, definitely check this album out. The full band, talented writing, and beautiful vocals make for an awesome listen and surprise me with each song. This album offers so much and truly shows how far Midnight Sister has come. Their matured sound allows for more creative leaps and has resulted in tracks that are truly unique. I hope they continue to experiment outside of the box and am really interested to see what they come up with next.