Wonderlick/Sony Music | 2016
Montaigne is finally releasing her debut album, Glorious Heights. Four years after entering the Australian music scene as a finalist in Triple J Unearthed, and with a number of impressive singles under her wing, she’s produced an album full of powerful pop songs that will almost definitely cement her place as one of Australia’s rising stars.
Single ‘Because I Love You’ has been floating around on Australian radio since June and has rightly been garnering a lot of love. It’s packed with catchy piano chords and pop beats that complement Montaigne’s vocal style well, and unless you listen carefully to the surprisingly dark lyrics you could easily mistake it for a much happier tune. This is one thing Montaigne does really well throughout the album – masking quite dark lyrics with upbeat, bouncy tunes, demonstrating just how clever the whole thing is. ‘What You Mean to Me’ is one of the only songs that doesn’t include this contrast. Written about the first time she experienced reciprocated love, urgent instrumentals build towards a soaring chorus filled with uplifting horns. The result is a song that feels genuinely triumphant and happy, and it is one of the highlights of the album.
Another highlight of the album is the gripping ‘Consolation Prize’. Co-written with Kate Miller-Heidke, it’s a slow piano ballad that perfectly showcases Montaigne’s powerful voice. Even though the backing is made up primarily of simple piano chords and strings, her voice carries it all to turn it into a goose bump-inducing, sombre song about looking for positivity throughout despair. While it doesn’t necessarily fit in perfectly with the rest of the pop-tinged tunes on the rest of the album, it’s an interesting look at how versatile Montaigne can be and how well this could pay off for her in the future.
Closer ‘I’m Behind You’ sums up the album well, albeit in a slightly weird way. The song twists and turns, taking us from a more minimal, dark beginning containing abrasive synths and snares reminiscent of the 80s, to end up with a string-filled ethereal final chorus. Montaigne’s vocals reach extraordinary heights as she sings about a rather unorthodox subject matter: her dental hygiene routine. It’s things like this that encapsulate why Montaigne has seen such success so far – while she’s very impressive musically, she’s also unpredictable and exciting. That’s why Glorious Heights is not just a great debut album. It’s a great album that anyone at any point in their career should be proud of.